Science and Economic Development Steven Joyce has hinted at more partnerships between Lincoln and the private sector, calling his unspecified plan a crucial part of the tech-transfer story.
Joyce was at the university’s dairy research farm launching the second stage of the Pastoral 21 programme, highlighting the importance of places like Lincoln for information-sharing.
There had been a lot of talk over the years about the Lincoln campus developing and becoming a true agri-technology hub, he said.
Now, despite the cost of repairing earthquake damage, the university had a unique opportunity to take that role.
He noted Crown research institutes dotted around Lincoln were also investing.
“My view is that we should attract private-sector investors on the campuses as well, companies that are closely involved in the agricultural sector and actually build a very strong hub where scientists, researchers and people who are implementing this stuff can circulate on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Joyce’s comments won’t have gone unnoticed, given he is in charge of most of the government’s budget for business innovation.
He pledged more detail soon about the partnerships but in the meantime regards them as strong innovation for Lincoln, Canterbury and indeed the South Island.
Joyce dropped his suggestion at the South Island Dairy Development Centre, where the industry groups involved in Pastoral 21 showcased the second phase of the $7.7 million programme.
The partners, including the government, dairying and the sheep and beef industry, are examining a number of ways to generate more profit from pastoral farming while reducing its environmental impact.
Dairying is trying to develop what the Pastoral 21 partners call “proven next-generation dairy systems” to increase profitability from production, while also reducing nitrogen and phosphorous losses to water.
In sheep and beef, the search for profit is directed at redesigning mixed livestock systems in the hill country.
There is also work being done on new feeds to reverse the relationship between production gains and impact on water quality.
The Lincoln University research farm involved in some of this work is partly funded by the taxpayer, Joyce reminded a strong showing of dairy farmers.
The government has committed about $45m a year from the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBI), including funds for Pastoral 21 and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.
Additionally, in the past year Ministry for Primary Industries has put aside $130m for the sector, of which a significant amount was tagged for Primary Growth Partnerships.
- Pastoral 21 is a venture between MBI, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Fonterra and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand. The research partners involved, apart from DairyNZ, are Massey, Lincoln, Plant and Food Research, NIWA, Landcare Research and On-farm Research.