Robotics Plus appointed Matt Glenn as chief executive amid growing demand for its robotics and automation solutions for agricultural businesses.

Glenn will replace Steve Saunders, co-founder and chairman, who has held the role of acting chief executive. Saunders will remain an executive director to focus on the strategy and establishment of a US subsidiary.

"The company is growing strongly and is well funded, so now is the right time to add a professional chief executive to lead our high calibre team. We are very pleased to have attracted someone of Matt's calibre, he brings over 20 years of experience in business management and the commercialisation of science and technology," said Saunders.

Glenn was previously chief executive of Hill Laboratories, an analytical testing laboratory, a role he has held since 2014. Prior to that he worked in management consulting after roles at Fonterra and Ballance Agri-nutrients.


Earlier in the year, Tauranga-based Robotics Plus secured investment and a partnership agreement from Japan's Yamaha Motor Co. and the Saunders Family Trust in New Zealand to support its growth plans.

In May, it signed an agency and distribution agreement with Global Pac Technologies, a joint venture between United States company Van Doren Sales and New Zealand-owned Jenkins Group, for the company's robotic apple packers to go global.

The apple packer, which identifies and places apples in their trays and can safely handle up to 120 fruit per minute which is the equivalent of two people, is already operating in packhouses in New Zealand and the US.

Other technologies under development, at various stages of commercialisation, include an autonomous agricultural vehicle, robotic kiwifruit harvester, robotic pollinator, crop estimator, and a number of confidential projects, it said.

The company said key focus for Robotics Plus in the coming months will be actively recruiting more engineers, to add to their team of 27 staff and 8 researchers, "to keep pace with the global demand for their innovation."