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GDI Meets BioGro: Driving sustainability through Analytics

July 2023, New Zealand Aotearoa


This year, GDI had the privilege of teaming up with BioGro NZ, New Zealand's leading certifier for organic produce and products, for the GDI Data for Good Hackathon. The hackathon was all about leveraging data and analytics tools to support the growth of the organic sector and create real value for BioGro's licensees and end consumers.

BioGro NZ

BioGro NZ is a big deal in the organic sector, certifying and accrediting over 950 producers, farmers, and manufacturers across New Zealand and the Pacific. They're all about promoting organic and sustainable farming practices, protecting the environment, and providing consumers with healthy and high-quality organic products. BioGro's certification is internationally recognised and accredited, which means New Zealand producers can tap into the growing global demand for organic produce.

The Problem

The hackathon focused on several key questions for the teams to help solve:

  • How can we help the organic sector grow, benefitting our licensees, end consumers, and ultimately BioGro?

  • How could we combine or visualise the datasets and any external data sets to create value for our licensees and/or BioGro?

  • How can we boost BioGro’s revenue by creating value for licensees and the certification team?

The Datasets

To tackle these questions, teams had access to datasets on certified input products, certified organic licensees, licensee locations, and any additional external datasets that teams found.

One of the datasets provided to the teams - location data of all BioGro licensees in NZ

The Solutions

The cohort was split into four teams, each developing unique and innovative solutions to the problem(s) at hand. The teams showed off their creativity, technical data skills, and deep understanding of the problem to produce four incredible solutions for BioGro.

Team 1: Bridging Consumers and Organic Producers

Team 1 zeroed in on how BioGro could help the organic sector grow. They came up with a solution that involved creating a comprehensive database of organic producers and retailers. This database would make it easy for consumers to find out where they can buy organic products in their area, adding value for BioGro's licensees.

The team's solution wasn't just about creating a database. It was about empowering consumers and supporting organic producers. By making it easier for consumers to find organic products, they can make more informed choices, support organic producers, and help the organic sector grow.

Team 2: Prospective Licensee Acquisition through Geospatial Analysis

Team 2 dug deep into the soil quality used to determine audit risk and potential licensees. They suggested using Google Maps API to identify areas with suitable soil quality, reducing the number of inputs audited and simplifying the process. They also made a business case showing that organic farming is significantly more profitable, which could be a game-changer when pitching to potential licensees.

By using the Google Maps API, they provided a practical and efficient solution to a problem that has big implications for BioGro and the organic sector.

Team 3: Optimising Auditor Allocation for Increased Efficiency and Sustainability

Team 3 came up with a solution to ramp up the efficiency of auditor allocation. They used the Google Maps API to find the closest auditor in terms of driving distance for all producer locations. This solution aimed to cut down on travel for auditors and optimise the allocation process.

The team's solution was a perfect example of how data can be used to boost operational efficiency. By optimising the auditor allocation process, they could potentially save time and resources, freeing up BioGro to focus more on their core mission of promoting organic farming.

Team 4: Online Consumer Retail and Strategic Partnerships

Team 4 suggested a strategic partnership with online supermarkets and a new consumer tool. They proposed a data collection and presentation feature that would help consumers find certified organic products easily. They also made a business case for a partnership with online supermarkets, which would benefit licensees, partners, and BioGro.

The team's solution was innovative and forward-thinking. They recognised the growing trend of online shopping and proposed a solution that leverages this trend to benefit BioGro, their licensees, and consumers. Their solution has the potential to increase the visibility of organic products, boost sales for licensees, and generate additional revenue for BioGro.

The Results

The hackathon finale was a brilliant showcase where teams presented to the judging panel consisting of Donald Nordeng (CEO of BioGro) and Vivek Katial (Executive Director of GDI). The judges were blown away by the valuable insights and innovative solutions each team brought to the table.

At the end of the day, Team 3 and Team 4 came first and second place respectively. Their solutions were not only insightful and creative but also had the potential to be leveraged by BioGro to accelerate impact. Donald was particularly excited by the prospect of looking further into Team 3's auditor optimisation solution as part of a new project - stay tuned!

Wrapping up

As we wrap up the hackathon, we want to say a massive congratulations to all the participants. We also want to say a big thank you to BioGro for their active participation in this event, especially to Fliss Roberts who provided constant support to teams. We can't wait to continue our partnership with BioGro!


Shakeel Lala (Director of People and Culture, GDI) and Donald Nordeng (CEO, BioGro)

About GDI:

The Good Data Institute (established 2019) is a registered not-for-profit organisation (ABN: 6664087941) that aims to give not-for-profits access to data analytics (D&A) support & tools. Our mission is to be the bridge between the not-for-profit world and the world of data analytics practitioners wishing to do social good. Using D&A, we identify, share, and help implement the most effective means for growing NFP people, organisations, and their impact.

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