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Report shows commercial and scientific progress

Annual report demonstrates wide-ranging commercial and scientific progress

20 October 2006

AgResearch's 2005/2006 annual report shows the country's principal pastoral Research Institute is continuing to develop scientific discoveries into world-leading products, says CEO Dr Andrew West.

Over the last year AgResearch has put considerable effort into transforming scientific discoveries into business outcomes. The report outlines these achievements and also the launch of 2020 Science, the company's vision for the New Zealand pastoral sector to work together to create a more valuable future using science.

In the report AgResearch Chairman Rick Christie notes some of the commercial achievements over the last year and a number of important collaborations in both the public and private sectors.

Commercialisation initiatives announced included AgResearch's pivotal role in the development of BioPacific Ventures, New Zealand's first dedicated agricultural biotechnology venture capital fund.

He also notes the establishment of Phytagro, a joint venture between AgResearch and US venture company Finistere Partners which will lever AgResearch's forage derived plant biotech IP into major arable crops in the USA.

Last year also saw the successful sale of AgResearch's 100% subsidiary animal health company AgVax, which was the biggest deal by a CRI. "Our ability to commercialise our own science and technologies is reinforced by this sale," says Rick Christie.

Other major developments included progress on commercialisation of the ground-breaking Sniffertech(tm) technology in the ContainerScan joint venture, which promises to revolutionise biosecurity inspection methods for shipping containers. Evolution of the Ovita Consortium led to the creation of a new Ovita joint venture with Meat and Wool New Zealand and three commercial companies in which AgResearch holds equity: Catapult, Orico and ParaCo. On the collaboration front, significant progress has been made on the construction of buildings that will house the Hopkirk Research Institute, a research collaboration with Massey University that will provide a major boost to New Zealand's animal health research.

Planning for another major collaboration began with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Otago University, which paves the way for establishment of the National Centre for Reproduction and Genomics.

Another highlight, in the emerging field of epigenetic science, was the establishment of the EpiGen partnership, which involves Auckland University's world renowned Liggins Institute, England's Southampton University and the UK Medical Research Council.

Other collaborations with organisations such as PGG-Wrightson, Meat & Wool New Zealand and Dexcel are evidence of the organisation's re-engagement with the pastoral sector, says Rick Christie.

AgResearch CEO Dr Andrew West says the 2005/2006 year was exceptional. "We achieved some wonderful scientific and business outcomes. In just 12 months we helped create six joint venture companies and doubled our income from licensed IP. Moreover, we were increasingly recognised by farmers and the wider community for our contribution to a prosperous, well-informed New Zealand."

At $13.5 million, AgResearch increased its net profit after tax by just under $10 million from the previous financial year. This result was substantially influenced by the sale of AgVax and represents a return of almost 15 per cent on shareholders' funds. AgResearch also achieved 5 per cent growth in underlying scientific and commercial revenue and paid a $5 million dividend to its shareholders during the year.

ENDS

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