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Nelson/Marlborough Tops $1 Million In Govt Funding

The Nelson/Marlborough region has received more than $1.1 m in government funding in the past year through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology's Technology New Zealand scheme.

Projects in and around Blenheim received half of this amount, with the remainder split between the rest of the Marlborough province ($160,000), Nelson ($330,000) and Motueka ($75,000).

The majority of the Blenheim funding has gone to boost industry knowledge of mussel farming, either through research work by the New Zealand Mussel Industry Council or private companies.

Research in Nelson has also focused on aquaculture, with funding going to mussel and scallop projects as well as to software and horticulture, while Marlborough research includes investigating the farming of sea monkeys (see box story attached).

Lins Kerr, of Technology New Zealand, says research is running at a similar pace in the region as in previous years and he expects the local economy should be seeing benefits as the projects move through to commercialisation.

Technology New Zealand invests around $35 million a year in supporting technology-based projects that help businesses develop new products or processes, build human capital within businesses and provide access to information and expertise.

. "Technology for Industry Fellowships fund tertiary students and experienced researchers to carry out scientific research within a company, while matching funding through the Technology for Business Growth scheme, helps companies develop high value, high margin products, processes or services," says Mr Kerr.

Mr Kerr says Technology New Zealand's Grants for Private Sector Research Development scheme (GPSRD), launched just over a year ago, is also proving popular with business. The scheme provides SMEs with grants between $10,000 and $100,000 for up to 1/3 of a business's increased spend on R&D.

We have developed a range of options to help businesses become more technologically adept, and in the past 10 years Technology New Zealand has assisted around 2,000 companies carry out new technology development," says Mr Kerr.

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Notes for editors:

Technology New Zealand is a set of government-funded business support schemes encouraging R&D in business. Around $35 million is available each year to help companies develop new products or processes, build human capital within businesses and provide access to information and expertise.

DANCING SEA MONKEYS BOUNCE FROM THE BRINY

Their zip and bounce has given the tiny artemia brine shrimps the endearing name of sea monkeys, but they're about to play a big role in the aquaculture industry, thanks to research carried out by a Marlborough company.

Eggs laid by the salt-water loving shrimp are in big demand as a fin fish food, but until now there has been little research done to develop a New Zealand sourced product that could provide an alternative to the high cost imported product.

Recently the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology funded a Belgian expert to help Burkhart Fishery acquire the international technology to grow and harvest the tiny shrimp. Those early results encouraged the company, based in the tiny town of Ward, just south of Lake Grassmere, to continue this scientific research.

Technology New Zealand then provided $148,500 in funding through its Technology for Business Growth scheme to enable the company to work alongside research partner NIWA.

Larnce Wichman of Burkhart's describes the process to commercialisation as a long road. "At present we're still working with NIWA to carry out the testing and look at a range of technical aspects, then once we have a product that fits the grade we need to take it to Belgium for accreditation. It's this international certification that could put the seal of approval on a busy little industry, made possible by natural resources such as high saline lakes," he says

Mr Wichman believes migratory birds from South America originally carried artemia shrimps here. The tiny cysts remain dormant until put in water and take 8-10 days to grow to adults, with the resulting bounce and bubble giving rise to the name. He says they are great little 'pets' for children, as they can take home a package of the dormant eggs, put them in water and watch them grow into little shrimps. -ends-

FLYING UNDERWATER REVEALS DEEP SEA TERRAIN

The mysteries of underwater terrain are no longer hidden, thanks to revolutionary technology developed by an enterprising Nelson company.

Seabed Mapping International Ltd has just completed a year long research project which reveals, for the first time in graphic 3D, the topography of deep water fishing grounds and sends the resulting information direct to fishing vessels. The intellectual property management system for fishing companies will help in identifying prime fishing spots as well as reducing running and equipment costs.

It's already being used by at least one fishing company in New Zealand and keen interest is being shown in Chile, Japan, Spain, the UK and Australia, with early projections of doubling turnover in rapid time.

The 10 year old company has now formed an international division to manage its expansion off-shore and has already created two full time jobs, with a third on the way - a direct effect of the R&D programme which has led to a world first in seabed mapping.

Declan O'Toole, Seabed Mapping International's CEO, says the company spent a 'significant amount' on the research, which was also assisted with part funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology through Technology New Zealand.

He explains the theory behind the product; "What fishers need is very high resolution contour maps so they can get in the right spot. When you look at the costs to run a fishing vessel, around $25,000 a day, and the expensive gear which can be easily lost on the gnarly ocean floor, it's easy to see why they need as much information as possible on the deep water sea floor."


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