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AgResearch to support agritechnology cluster

AgResearch to support creation of an international-quality, agritechnology cluster in the Waikato

11 June, 2008

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Andrew West said today that the country’s largest Crown Research Institute supported the creation of an international-quality, agritechnology cluster in the Waikato.

Hamilton is New Zealand’s geographical centre of the agritechnology firms that manufacture machines and other equipment for the food industry – all the way from the farm through to the dairy or meat processing factory, and beyond even these in the form of packaging technologies that get food products to supermarkets.

“There are many attributes here in the Waikato that suggests a dynamic cluster of agritechnology firms of international quality,” said Dr Andrew West, Chief Executive of AgResearch. “However, to make this a genuine, truly effectively-operating cluster with a strong export focus and secure wealth generation, considerably more needs to be done”.

In AgResearch’s view many of the building blocks exist. Ruakura is an iconic campus that brings significant scientific and technical skills from AgResearch and HortResearch. Innovation Waikato, with its recent $4 million boost from central government and further, substantial boost from Hamilton City Council, is poised to dramatically expand the agritechnolgy base in the Waikato The University of Waikato and WINTEC, the Waikato’s polytechnic, are increasingly focused on education and training support for these agritechnology, manufacturing firms.

“What is needed is to get more from these building blocks in order to create New Zealand’s best commercial cluster” said Dr West. “Firstly, it is essential that central government continues to back the Waikato’s economic specialisation in dairy and red meat foods, and associated agritechnologies. For this to happen the Government needs to invest in a food innovation centre here in Hamilton. That is essential to assist these food and agritechnology firms, and to help the cluster itself to rapidly develop.

“Secondly, it is important to think of skills development, research and development, and business improvement within the wider context of creating New Zealand’s best cluster. In other words, we need to think of this as a business ecosystem where all the parts work together to create wealth and exports well in excess of the individual components”.

AgResearch is now actively working with parties across the Waikato to create New Zealand’s best commercial cluster.

“Our view is that the prospect is genuinely exciting, propelled by a rampant Ruakura campus involving two Crown Research Institutes, a University, a polytechnic and a scientific-industrial park, with these serving a very large number of agritechnology firms,” said Dr West.


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