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Kiwinet Challenge for new mussel-processing technologies

Sanford takes on KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover new processing technologies for mussels

Nelson, October 22, 2014 – Sanford Limited is taking on a KiwiNet Business Challenge to uncover novel proposals for high-speed automated technologies that will help it process its current daily rate of 1.5 million mussels. Today, researchers at New Zealand’s public research organisations will be pitching ideas to improve mussel processing in Nelson at the Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop in a bid to win $5,000 of prototype development funding and the opportunity to work with Sanford to develop their solution for commercial application.

Sanford’s Aquaculture Manager Ted Culley says, “Processing as many molluscs as we do presents all sorts of challenges. This a great opportunity for us and others in the aquaculture industry to uncover some novel ideas with commercial potential. While we’re looking for a winning idea, we’re keen to investigate all good ideas, so we may end up with more research projects.”

Dr Bram Smith, General Manager of KiwiNet says, “The Business Challenges are a great way to uncover business problems and match them with creative and hi-tech research solutions that will help them improve business productivity. They’re also a great way to build links between researchers from Universities and Crown Research Institutes and industry. We’re always keen to hear from local companies and industry groups who want to tap into the scientific expertise in New Zealand’s research organisations. This is the first of several aquaculture business challenges.”

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 13 Universities, Crown Research Institutes and Crown Entities dedicated to taking a collaborative approach to research commercialisation.

Culley says that while Sanford already have strong relationships with many research agencies the KiwiNet Business Challenge is a great way build a stronger report with researchers and to focus attention on key business areas.

The Sanford KiwiNet Business Challenge will showcase ten proposals from research organisations including AUT University, Cawthron Institute, University of Otago, Callaghan Innovation and Victoria University. The pitches will cover five key business challenges for mussel processing identified by Sanford including:

• Non-invasive, high speed mussel weight measurement: Currently mussels are graded via the mussel shell width, which in-turn estimates the mussel weight. Mussels are then sorted and blanched based on their predicted weight. A new more accurate method of predicting mussel weight would improve grading and blanching accuracy. This is a high value challenge that could have global applications.

• Better method to remove mussel beards: The mussel industry uses a machine to remove mussel beards that is approximately 75% efficient. The challenge is to find an alternate solution that would improve efficiency to closer to 100%.

• Identifying a commercially viable use for mussel shells: The seafood industry is keen to identify a commercially viable application for mussel shells left over from processing.

• Identifying a commercially viable use for old mussel ropes: Old mussel rope embedded with ocean borne organic matter are removed as waste. The industry is eager to find a commercially viable opportunity to utilise this currently discarded resource.

• Automated notification of failed navigation lights: There is a need to improve the monitoring of marine navigations lights critical for worker safety. Navigation lights need to be constantly checked by hand. A retrofit innovation to autonomously signal when a bulb fails could have broad applications into a variety of marine situations.

The Aquaculture NZ Research Workshop and the Sanford KiwiNet Business Challenge will be followed by the national Aquaculture NZ conference on 23 -24 October.

About KiwiNet
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) comprises universities and crown research institutes and agencies working together to increase the scale and impact of scientific and technology based innovation in New Zealand. KiwiNet’s role is to empower those involved in research commercialisation by helping them access the tools, connections, investment and support they need. By working together, KiwiNet aims to better leverage the combined capability of NZ research organisations and help each other to achieve greater commercial outcomes for New Zealand. KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR and NIWA. Principal support is also provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

For more on KiwiNet visit www.kiwinet.org.nz

ENDS

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