New Zealand’s $60b answer

New Zealand’s first food super-campus will be the focus of FoodHQ, a research collaboration that aims to enable the nation’s food exports to reach $60 billion by 2025.

FoodHQ will be officially launched on July 29 at Massey University’s Manawatū campus by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce, who will be joined by Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye. The first stage of FoodHQ, Food Innovation New Zealand, was launched in August 2009 by Prime Minister John Key.

​FoodHQ is poised to deliver on the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, which calls for a trebling of the real value of food exports in the next 12 years.

An investment into the Palmerston North-based campus of $250 million over 20 years, FoodHQ will further unify established research organisations AgResearch, Fonterra, Massey University, Plant & Food Research, the Riddet Institute and the BCC. It is supported by the Palmerston North City and Manawatū District councils.

Project manager Mark Ward says FoodHQ’s 20-year strategic plan outlines how the six organisations will collectively play a key role in the global food community. “This is an enormously significant step forward,” Mr Ward says. “By working together as FoodHQ, our innovative organisations will enable a new economic platform for New Zealand, with higher levels of revenue and the creation of jobs.”

A key part of the announcement will detail plans to develop a fully-integrated super-campus that encompasses the Fitzherbert Science Park on one side of Tennent Drive on the outskirts of Palmerston North and Massey University’s Manawatū campus Turitea site across the road.

The super-campus will be home to more than 4000 researchers and educators involved in the agri-food value chain. Designed to meet – or surpass – world bench marks, it will compare with other industry- centred innovation hubs in Denmark, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United States.

“The six food partners are already within a kilometre of each other,” Mr Ward says. “The super-campus will reflect a modernisation of the facilities in the Fitzherbert Science Park and Massey University, and the partners will upgrade current facilities and build new ones in consultation with each other.

“Most importantly, the super-campus will give current and future global customers one-door access to the very best in New Zealand food innovation. The collaborative approach creates a faster, easier way for food companies to work with the partners.”

An estimated $230 million in annual economic value will be added to the region from the creation of new research and development jobs.

Together, the research organisations already represent one of the largest concentrations of food scientists in the world but Mr Ward says there is a need to be more efficient and effective through collaboration.

“Because our value chains are fragmented, we’re not as competitive on the world stage as we could be. While the six main FoodHQ partners are all strong organisations in their own right, bringing them together as FoodHQ opens the way for a collective vision, greater accomplishments and a defragmentation of the industry. This will attract major food producers from around the world to undertake their research and development here.

“FoodHQ will also champion the idea of food innovation and promote New Zealand’s shift to being a value-added food nation, building on its strength as a commodity producer.”

There are already many examples of how the organisations have successfully worked together in food innovation, such as the products Anlene™ and Omelife. Anlene™, which is the leading adult milk formula brand across Asia offering a range of high-calcium dairy products specially formulated to encourage optimal bone health, resulted from a collaborative project between Massey University and Fonterra. Omelife is a smart omega-3 fish oil delivery system, developed by the Riddet Institute, which is added to a very wide range of foods with little effect on the sensory characteristics and shelf life of the products.

Plant & Food Research is known throughout the world for adding value to fruit, vegetable, elite crops and innovative food products. Its work was the basis for the delcyan™ extract from blackcurrants that has been shown to reduce mental fatigue and enhance cognitive function and feelings of calm. Delcyan™ is now being marketed by Just the Berries Ltd as a functional ingredient and a consumer product.  Likewise, AgResearch creates high-value foods and ingredients for the pastoral-based industries.

The launch will be attended by industry leaders involved in agri-food production, research and development, manufacturing and marketing. The event will follow an afternoon of seminars showcasing FoodHQ’s vital impact as the heart of New Zealand’s food innovation expertise and capability.

What Food HQ partners are saying.

Dr Tom Richardson, Chief Executive, AgResearch.

“FoodHQ is a significant part of AgResearch’s plan to reinvest $100 million in its infrastructure and facilities across its four campuses and co-locate with our key research and sector partners. There are many benefits to co-location, and increased collaboration is just one of those. Much of our beyond-the-farm-gate science is already based here and we have existing projects with all of the FoodHQ partners. Increasing our commitment to work together through improving our physical infrastructure will ultimately benefit New Zealand’s export sector.”

Dr Jeremy Hill, Fonterra Research and Development Centre.

The dairy world never stands still and New Zealand has long been at the forefront of R&D, innovation and just doing things differently. At the Fonterra Research and Development Centre we’re excited by the formation of FoodHQ as a base for world-class food science and technology, which complements our own unique strengths. Under our open innovation model, it will give us access to a wider pool of top talent, and specialist plant and equipment.

We believe Food HQ will provide us with career tracks for the next generation of researchers on whose shoulders rest the challenge of keeping New Zealand competitive in the ever changing world of dairy.”

Steve Maharey, Vice-Chancellor, Massey University.

Massey University has worked closely with New Zealand’s land-based industries for more than 85 years. Today we are one of the leading agricultural and food science universities in the world, with expertise to offer through every step of the value-chain. As part of FoodHQ, Massey will be able to work with public and private sector partners to achieve the goal of dramatically lifting the value of New Zealand’s food-related products. We will also be able to compete on the world stage with other global centres of food innovation research.

Peter Landon-Lane, Chief Executive, Plant & Food Research.

“Collaboration is essential for research and innovation to help the New Zealand food and beverage industries meet their future potential. From whole foods to functional foods, innovation that develops value-added products and delivers competitive advantage is vital. FoodHQ will allow us to share facilities, ideas and resources to ensure we are able to address our partners’ needs in a holistic way. Plant & Food Research has significant resources and capability located in the Manawatū, covering a range of disciplines important to the food sectors we support, and we expect this capability to form an important part of the FoodHQ story. In addition, around $10 million in strategic land and buildings owned by Plant & Food Research will be available to ensure the vision of a truly collaborative food research hub is realised.”

Distinguished Professor Paul J. Moughan, Co-director, Riddet Institute.

“In many ways this is our time – the moment for New Zealand to be a global leader in food innovation.  I personally, have a vision of a science-led industry adding value to its unique raw material, to produce specialised food ingredients, isolated proteins and premium branded products targeted to our Asian neighbours. The potential to develop smart science-inspired foods and food ingredients, targeted at increasingly health conscious consumers is very real. Such products are high-value and command good profit margins, and have the potential to completely transform New Zealand foods and the New Zealand economy.” The Riddet Institue is a government-funded Centre of Research Excellence in Food, hosted by Massey University.

Dean Tilyard, Chief Executive, BCC.

“FoodHQ is about a fresh approach. There is new energy around collaboration and the manner in which the parties are seeking to connect and align to the market. When combined, the current partners have a rich pedigree and an impressive breadth and depth of technical capability. By providing an environment that is supportive and open we expect FoodHQ to make a measurable difference to levels of commercialisation and start up activity, the growth of the New Zealand food sector and, ultimately, New Zealand’s wealth.

Jono Naylor, Mayor, Palmerston North City.

“FoodHQ is a fantastic initiative that reinforces the long-standing food innovation activities undertaken in Palmerston North, while planning for the future to ensure the city benefits from the smart economy and the employment opportunities that will come with further investment. Most importantly, FoodHQ will cement Palmerston North at the heart of New Zealand’s contribution to solving global food challenges.”

Margaret Kouvelis, Mayor, Manawatū District.

“Never before has this region had such a unique opportunity to ensure that New Zealand can achieve a sustainable and competitive advantage on this scale. Manawatū’s compelling environment and lifestyle opportunities will offer more than just a job for those who seek to be at the forefront of global food innovation. Manawatū is the mecca of vibrant science and agribusiness. With the advent of FoodHQ, job markets of the future will be defined by highly specialised, talented people at the heart of our key industries. Such a ‘brain hub’ on our doorstep will generate a multiplier effect that will ripple through our urban and rural population.”