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Project to convert more ideas into economic benefit


Media Release
10 December 2012

Project aims to boost economic success through closer look at innovation system

The Primary Innovation project, a collaboration across the primary sector, has been launched as a new Government-backed initiative looking at the best way to convert ideas from scientific research into innovations that will improve New Zealand’s economy.

The project, led by AgResearch scientist James Turner, is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and will include scientists from a number of primary industry sector research organisations, growers, farmers and foresters.

“We are looking at how innovation happens in the primary industries. If we can find ways to improve the innovation system, the benefits will be considerable,” says Dr Turner.

“We’ve seen before how when great ideas coming out of science are actually put into practice there can be significant economic benefits. We’re hoping to create a repeatable process for making that happen routinely and create more success stories for farmers and growers,” he says.

The New Zealand project will draw on learnings from a similar research project in The Netherlands. Dr Laurens Klerkx, the leader of the Dutch project and Associate Professor at the Knowledge, Innovation and Technology Group at Wageningen University is in New Zealand from 17 December running several workshops to help launch the Primary Innovation project. He will meet with Government officials and members of the science community while in New Zealand.

The New Zealand project will see research case studies established during its five-year timeframe. PRIMARY INNOVATION will not only seek to come up with research solutions from the case studies, but have better application and adoption of the solutions so that the process can be mirrored.

Mark Paine, DairyNZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader - People and Business says the project will make the most of what we already have.

“Focusing on the connection between science and the end user of the research is important. We have innovative farmers and we have scientists capable of providing innovative solutions. The aim of PRIMARY INNOVATION is to make those connections ‘real world’ to create a sustainable economic difference,” he says.

The concept being tested with PRIMARY INNOVATION is for the project to have webs of participants in the New Zealand primary industries forming innovation networks to develop solutions together to the primary industry’s most pressing problems.

The case studies that have been planned to help focus the research team’s observations and interactions are:

• Dairy herd reproductive performance
• Managing the tomato potato psyllid in potato crops
• Forestry products links to market
• And optimising water use in Canterbury based on climate information..

Participating organisations in PRIMARY INNOVATION include Future Forests Research Ltd., DairyNZ, Scion, Landcare Research, NZ Winegrowers, NIWA, Centre of Excellence for Farm Business Management, Pipfruit NZ, Plant & Food Research, ESR, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Horticulture NZ, Anzco Foods and AgResearch.


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