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AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

1 August 2013

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016.

“We must also stress that capability will be retained at both Ruakura and Invermay but the focus will change.

“The challenges in this strategy will depend on maintaining and enhancing AgResearch’s good linkage with the University of Otago’s exceptional genetics team and on Lincoln University continuing to build its capability; a process Lincoln began last year.

“The downsizing of Invermay must not see a reduction of AgResearch’s capability in either sheep or deer.

“Yet if we are to light the after-burners on our primary exports, then we need to create a culture of cool, innovative science backed with functional well-resourced campuses.

“AgResearch, at Palmerston North, will be part of ‘Food HQ’ based on Massey University together with the Riddet Institute, Plant & Food Research, the Bio Commerce Centre and Fonterra.

“At Lincoln University, AgResearch, will join not only the University itself, but an ‘Ag HQ’ hub comprising DairyNZ, Plant & Food and Landcare Research too.

“This brings to New Zealand and the primary industries a campus culture usually associated with Silicon Valley. It is about paddock to the plate solutions in campuses that attract the world’s best scientific talent, not to mention, research monies to.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure was getting creaky. Its $100 million reinvestment is not only timely, but a wise investment to build strategic capability of benefit to farmers and all New Zealanders,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

ends

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