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BoP to launch virtual food innovation institute

For Immediate Release
18 October, 2006

BoP to launch virtual food innovation institute

Bay of Plenty food and beverage companies are about to receive a research and development boost with the proposed development of the Virtual Institute for Food Innovation (vif-I) in the region.

The proposed Virtual Institute for Food Innovation (vif-I) will be a "solution centre" that gives small and medium businesses (SMEs) access to innovation.

The centre will address problem-solving for manufacturing, research and development competency, market research-led development, innovative new product development and access to a global array of services and facilities.

The initiative has developed from a partnership between food companies in the Western Bay of Plenty with the food manufacturing cluster, Food BoP.

The steering committee includes representatives from Crown Research Institute Scion, Paramount Stainless, Tech NZ and the Foundation of Research, Science and Technology, and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).

Project manager Russell Wallace says the project proposes to lend companies an innovation team via a "think tank" to fill knowledge gaps and support the innovation process.

"It is often said that Bay of Plenty food and beverage companies have excellent products and opportunities to innovate, but are either not sure how to go about it or simply don't have the resources to pursue innovation. In many cases it's just too big a task for many small and medium sized businesses," says Mr Wallace.

"Innovation is not a simple undertaking. For this project, three key elements are being considered as central to innovation – brand and marketing, product development and systems development. Each of these areas creates an opportunity for a company to generate significant added value."

The next stage in the development of vif-I is a feasibility study which will involve undertaking a model project to determine the shape and effectiveness of the virtual institute. The feasibility study will be funded by NZTE and managed by Priority One. Comvita has been selected as the commercial participant in the model project.

Local food and beverage companies will be drawn on to attend workshops in mid-November to ensure the institute will be effective, relevant and of value to the local industry.


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