Progress on HB Innovation Park

Matariki Communications Update - Action 2.10

Work Area 2
Improve pathways to and through employment

Action 2.10
Undertake agriculture and horticulture feasibility studies to invest in Maori business growth, job creation and workforce development; contributes to Project 1000 (Acton 2.1) which links local people on benefits to 1000 jobs over three years.

December 2017
Progress has been made on Action 2.10, and now multiple options have been developed for consideration in conducting a feasibility study for a Hawke’s Bay Innovation Park.

Earlier this year (July & August 2017), Hastings District Council, Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Tomoana Food Hub (25% owned by the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust) provided direct cash funding of around $25,000 with significant ‘in kind’ resources for a project to examine whether the concept of an Innovation Park in Hawke’s Bay, supported by a new hub of the Food Innovation Network, attracted any interest from existing food and beverage businesses and also agritech businesses in the Bay. Prior to this work being undertaken, the Tomoana Food Hub invested significant resources in exploring the concept.

The project was supported by a number of other entities including MBIE, Business Hawke’s Bay, the Food Innovation Network, Maungaharuru Tangitū Trust, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council and the University of Waikato.

The project interviewed almost 50 companies, visited the Waikato Innovation Park and associated Food Innovation Network hub there, and consulted closely with Food Innovation South and the Network itself. It concluded there was real interest for food, beverage and agritech businesses in the concept of an Innovation Park and also a supporting Food Innovation Network (FIN) hub.

As a result, the Steering Committee overseeing the project confirmed that the project should proceed to the feasibility study phase and scoped out what a far more detailed feasibility study might examine in its assessment of whether such a park and FIN hub could succeed in Hawke’s Bay.

It was agreed that consultants conducting the feasibility study must engage widely throughout Hawke’s Bay and beyond. They will report to the Steering Committee, comprised of its co-funders and other relevant interested parties.

Currently, there are four options to be considered. The ultimate goal of the feasibility study is to provide analyses of these four options and make a recommendation about which – if any – should be pursued for business case development and if successful, implementation case development.

Option 1:
Waikato Innovation park model including a FIN facility To date the only agritech-focused Innovation Park in New Zealand is Waikato at Ruakura, Hamilton. This park now has three tenanted buildings (two multi-tenanted and one single tenanted) and a stand-alone Food Innovation Network hub in the form of a toll-processing spray drier for milk from cows, goats and sheep. The park began with a single, multi-tenanted building built specifically to enhance interactions between tenants and others using the building, and specifically for small (and sometimes start-up) businesses. Tenants had to be (and remain) focused on agritechnologies (hardware, software and genetics) and services that support that sector (such as education and training, HR, legal and the like). In time, a focus evolved around dairying, which is unsurprising given that cow dairy is a major focus of the Waikato region. However, so too is design, manufacture and sale of agritechnology equipment, and the new park rapidly filled with tenants. In due course multinational companies relocated to the park including Tetra Pak and CRV. The park also bid for and won a Food Innovation Network hub in the form of a standalone spray drier, unique in New Zealand as a fully neutral toll processor. This drier is now helping launch the sheep dairy industry and expand the goat dairy industry. The first option of a feasibility study is thus to explore whether a very similar park and some form of relevant FIN hub should and can be established in Hawke’s Bay.

Option 2:
Waikato Innovation Park model without a FIN hub The Waikato Innovation Park operated for around five years before its FIN hub commenced establishment. It may therefore be wise to examine in Hawke’s Bay the establishment of an Innovation Park first and delay the procurement of a FIN hub. This being the case, the second option is to explore the initial establishment of an Innovation Park alone.

Option 3:
A FIN hub only The Food Bowl of FIN was established as standalone facility without direct relation to either an Innovation Park (the Waikato FIN hub) or a university (Food Pilot at Massey and Food Innovation South at Lincoln). Thus a stand-alone FIN hub in Hawke’s Bay might be a viable option, so the third option is to explore the initial establishment of a FIN hub alone.

Option 4:
A virtual Innovation Park with no physical presence Innovation networks exist within cities such as Auckland and Wellington without necessarily requiring a specialist physical presence. Hawke’s Bay may be able to establish such a network and avoid the outlay of significant financial capital. Consequently, the fourth option is to explore the creation of a virtual Innovation Park that has no physical presence.

Tony Gray, Executive Project Advisor of the Economic Development Group at Hastings District Council, says the discovery phase has been completed, indicating that the project should proceed to the feasibility study.

“Informal discussions have been held with MBIE and Council officers are taking the project through their internal process with the outcome being a comprehensive report to the Matariki - HBREDS Governance Group seeking their support to seek funding.”

“This is a unique opportunity to potentially establish a Food Innovation Park and FIN facility which will facilitate the strong growth of the food and agriculture sectors of Hawke’s Bay, that ultimately creates jobs.”

For further information please contact:
Shayne Walker
Lead - Matariki Action 2.10
Co-Chair - Matariki Governance Group
General Manager - Maungaharuru-Tangitū Trust ENDS

11 December 2017

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