New Zealand allocates Provincial Growth Fund to support Hawke’s Bay Food Innovation Hub

Hastings District Council will receive 200,000 NZD from New Zealand’s Provincial Growth Fund to develop a feasibility and business case for the new Hawke’s Bay Food Innovation Hub. 

According to a press release by the New Zealand government, this announcement comes in light of nearly 5.1 million in funding for earlier projects in the Hawke’s Bay region such as the reopening of the Wairoa-to-Napier rail line and the planting of Manuka trees to support a recirculating wetland filter in Wairoa.

“The planned Food Innovation Hub will be food and beverage agri-tech focussed, which is an innovative way of integrating agriculture and technology to strengthen productivity and sustainability in the region’s primary sector,”  said Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau. “I’m excited for Hawke’s Bay that this investment will support the creation of new innovative facilities and industries, and provide opportunities for further private sector and investment. Ultimately this will lead to more jobs in the region.”

The Provincial Growth Fund is a $1 billion per annum investment over three years to ensuring regional New Zealand can thrive through productive, sustainable and inclusive economic growth; it has 3 investment tiers and assesses prospective projects on criteria based on four themes. The fund will support the New Zealand government’s objective of promoting productive, sustainable and inclusive growth by investing in regional economic development. As announced in New Zealand’s Budget 2018, the 1 billion NZD fund is split into 684 billion and 316 billion in  operating and capital expenditure respectively.

The 200,000 NZD grant will provide significant financial leeway for the creation of the Food Innovation Hub. In contrast to the grant amount, the Hastings District Council, Napier City Council and 13 other organisations in the food and beverage (F&B) and agricultural technology (agri-tech) sectors have contributed a total of 35 000 NZD towards the feasibility and business case. The combined funding from various stakeholders also underscores the Food Innovation Hub’s role in fostering cross-industry collaboration in the Hawke’s Bay region.

"Everyone involved is very appreciative of the support from Government to get this project closer to reality for Hawke's Bay's food, beverage and agri-tech industries,” said Hastings District Council Group Manager Craig Cameron. "This is a unique opportunity to potentially establish a Food Innovation Hub facility that will ultimately facilitate business growth and innovation, drive investment and economic growth and create jobs."

Currently, the estimated cost of setting up the Food Innovation Hub is approximately 20 million NZD. It is expected that further funding from the Provincial Growth Fund will be required as the project advances on to later phases. The next phase of the project is scheduled to be completed between October to November this year.

Conceived with a focus on F&B and agri-tech research, the Hawke’s Bay Food Innovation Hub will provide a platform for private enterprises to collaborate with public research institutes on a wide array of issues such as Big Data for agribusiness, bio-science and food production-specific cybersecurity; research outcomes at the Food Innovation Hub will facilitate business growth and innovation, encourage stronger investment and create more jobs for the Hawke’s Bay region.

 A preliminary report that concluded in 2017 affirmed significant interest from F&B enterprises, and the project is currently supported by a number of business groups, academic institutions and government agencies such as the Food Innovation Network (FINZ), the Wairoa District Council and the University of Waikato.  The Matariki Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) Governance Group, which oversees the Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan, has since identified this project as a regional priority.

Earlier this year, the Provincial Growth Fund also contributed to another feasibility study into the creation of innovation precincts in New Zealand’s Taranaki region. Since the launch of the fund in February 2017, regions such as Northland and Gisborne have benefited from increased home ownership, renewed investment and job creation.

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