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World-class animal health centre for Manawatu

World-class animal health centre to be based in Manawatu

Manawatu is poised to develop a world leading animal health research centre, building on the research skills of Massey University’s Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Science (IVABS) and AgResearch.

Vision Manawatu, an economic development agency, has just won NZTE funding to begin an assessment of the region’s animal health research capability.

The assessment is aimed at developing a world-renowned centre of excellence in animal health research and commercialisation of animal remedies, which will be based at Massey University.

Associate Director Maxine Yule said, “There is considerable opportunity for international positioning in animal health research and stronger relationships with commercial interests. This funding will help provide expert support to define these opportunities and provide a clear direction.

“We need to identify areas where our capability is internationally competitive; the key issues affecting commercialisation; and how to improve the interface between researchers and end-users,” she said. “It is critical that we begin planning for such an important centre now.”

Head of IVABS Professor Grant Guilford said, “I am looking forward to working with Vision Manawatu on the development of a commercial animal health cluster around the animal health research expertise of Massey and AgResearch. The grouping of these two research teams in Palmerston North has required strong commitment from the University and AgResearch. The collaborative venture creates a team of animal health researchers of a size and expertise that rivals that found anywhere in the world.

“Our plan now is to facilitate the clustering of commercial companies about this science base to reduce the risk of new product development for New Zealand's small to medium enterprises. The region already has a number of companies with an interest in animal health - such as New Zealand Pharmaceuticals, Estendart Ltd, Fonterra, Gribbles and New Zealand Veterinary Pathology as well as companies with more generic expertise to protect intellectual property and invest in its development. This, along with the world-class 'process engineering' skills of Massey's Institute of Technology and Engineering, offers the Manawatu region a unique strategic opportunity that we must make every effort to capitalise on."

New Zealand already has a competitive advantage in animal health with its excellent animal health status. Innovative animal remedies and health solutions will become increasingly important for New Zealand producers and exporters in the face of increasing consumer awareness of food chain safety.

The Manawatu is also home to some other key bioindustry stakeholders, including Fonterra, four Crown Research Institutes, New Zealand Pharmaceuticals and the BioCommerce Centre. The presence of a centre for excellence for animal health is likely to attract private sector research teams and specialised manufacturing facilities, which will have considerable economic benefits for the region and the country.

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