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$22m food tech and engineering upgrade

March 31, 2014

$22m food tech and engineering upgrade

Massey University today unveiled a $22 million upgrade of the Manawatū campus Riddet Complex, its base for food technology and engineering.

The major revamp is a significant step in the planned $250 million investment into Food HQ, a research collaboration between Massey and other big stakeholders in the agri-food business that have combined to help boost the annual value of New Zealand’s food exports to $60 billion by 2025.

University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says the investment in research and teaching spaces, including state-of-the-art laboratories and a food pilot plant, shows Massey's commitment to solving one of the big global issues – sustainable food production.

"Agriculture and the science and innovation behind food production are areas of specialisation in which Massey University is an acknowledged world leader and has been for our 50-year history," Mr Maharey says. "The students who come to Massey are all part of a project, in this case a project of vital importance to the New Zealand economy, to the public good and to the global issue of providing healthy food to rapidly-growing populations."

FoodHQ general manager Mark Ward says the complex is an integral building in New Zealand’s first food super campus. “It’s significant to Massey University but also to New Zealand because we always envisaged it as an open-access facility for other industry partners,” Mr Ward says.

Guest speaker at the opening was Callaghan Innovation chief executive Dr Mary Quinn. Callaghan is a Crown entity established to promote higher value exports, greater productivity and a stronger and more sustainable New Zealand economy. It uses government funding of more than $140 million a year to connect scientists, engineers, technologists and businesses.

Dr Quinn congratulated Massey on its investment into innovation and collaboration. “This complex is a significant statement of belief about the future of New Zealand. We look forward to partnering with Massey as it makes breakthroughs and helping bring those ideas and innovations into the market,” Dr Quinn says.

The complex is home to parts of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health and the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, both part of the University's College of Sciences.

Reconstruction of the complex started in 2006 and included the development of the Food Pilot plant, microbrewery and several state-of-the-art labs and shared spaces.

Massey is celebrating 50 years of heritage in food technology, with the Riddet complex first occupied in 1965 and named after Professor William Riddet, a founding father of the University with Sir Geoffrey Peren.

In the year that Massey University celebrates 50 years of being a university and 50 years of food technology, the Riddet building complex opening is a tangible expression of the journey the University has been on since the first Riddet building was occupied in 1965. The complex takes the name of one of the two founding fathers of the University, Professor William Riddet, and is a reflection of the strong emphasis on science and research-based post-farm gate processing that started as a focus on dairy factory management and matured into Food Technology in the early 1960s, became Industrial Biotechnology in the late 1960s and now incorporates Engineering and Technology working in tandem. A further eight buildings were added over the following 25 years. In 2005, the College of Sciences retrofit programme targeted the complex for upgrading. Three old buildings were demolished and replaced. A further building was extended and refurbished, public areas were refreshed and the complex generally was modified. As part of this spend, the original food pilot plant was replaced by a much larger facility with new teaching labs. Additional teaching spaces, workshops and laboratories have also been provide for SEAT, allowing for formal and informal learning with better circulation spaces and student study areas.

A strong industry connectedness is reflected in the many success stories resulting from partnerships. For example, the scientific basis for Fonterra’s Anlene milk brand, worth $600m in annual sales, was undertaken by the physiology of IFNHH.

Last year, Food HQ was launched as a new partnership of the strong entities driving food innovation in New Zealand, along with the Palmerston North City and Manawatu District councils. The Food HQ campus development plan articulated four nodes, of which Riddet is an integral part, enabling Massey and its Food HQ partners to continue the work already under way as part of the global food value chain. This includes sustainable production, food product innovation and engineering answers to food challenges,

Dr Mary Quinn opened the complex as a representative of the greater science and innovation community. Dr Quin has a distinguished career in New Zealand and in the United States, has held leadership roles in Nasdaq-listed companies such as Eastman Kodak and Xerox. She is now the inaugural chief executive of Callahan Innovation.


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