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Agchem innovation recognised by Callaghan

25 June 2014

Agchem innovation recognised by Callaghan

A major investment in technology by Zelam Limited, a New Plymouth-based agrichemical company, has been recognised by Callaghan Innovation.

Zelam is well-known on the land for its popular agrichemical brands – like TAG G2, Headstart, Pycus and Vixen. But few farmers and growers will be aware that the company behind these brands has one of the country’s largest research teams outside the universities and CRIs.

Each year, Zelam invests up to $3 million in chemistry, field trials and analyses. Now 20 per cent of its New Zealand research budget is being refunded by way of R&D grants from Callaghan Innovation, a government agency that helps fund businesses that invest in research and development.

The aim of the grants is to accelerate innovation by firms in New Zealand, so they turn ideas into marketable products and services more quickly and successfully.

“Of our 45 staff, 17 are full-time researchers,” says general manager Andrew Thompson.

“Our research focus is on tried and true agrichemicals that are off-patent. By developing novel formulations and delivery mechanisms for these products, we are helping farmers to beat weeds, pest and diseases that continue to prevent crops reaching full yield potential.

“We have developed formulations that are effective at lower application rates than established products. In addition, our oleo formulations make it easier for farmers by providing a one-drum product, versus having to mix separate products that are not normally stable in water.”

Of the company’s 10 top selling products, eight are based on Zelam IP. These include innovative mixes of chemical actives, the use of micro-encapsulation technology developed by Zelam and the adaptation through trial work in New Zealand of actives used in unrelated crops overseas.

Some of Zelam’s formulations have a big potential to earn foreign exchange from sales overseas. But most of the company’s products will reward taxpayer support indirectly – by making farmers and growers more efficient and helping boost the primary export economy.

Research manager Paul Lobb says the Callaghan funding is very welcome.

“Over the next five years we expect to get Callaghan grants of up to $3 million, which gives a good indication of the investment we are making in new technology. This will enable us to increase our investment in R&D by a similar amount.”

ENDS

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