Biotech research setting up in Tauranga

Australian-based expert Dr Marie Magnusson will set up the new research programme in Tauranga.

The Government and the University of Waikato are investing $13 million in a new research programme in Tauranga to help tackle some of the biggest issues facing New Zealand’s primary sector, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

The project, part of the Entrepreneurial Universities programme administered by the Tertiary Education Commission, will see leading Australian-based expert Dr Marie Magnusson relocate to Tauranga to set up the programme.

“This is an exciting development for the University of Waikato, Tauranga and the whole of NZ,” says Chris.

“By supporting entrepreneurship at universities, we can help strengthen innovation, build academic and industry connections and grow the pipeline of entrepreneurs.

“This type of research and technology will be critical as we look for solutions for things like reducing cattle methane emissions, limiting nutrient run-off from pasture, and fighting agricultural and horticultural diseases in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Government is committing approximately $4 million during five years to the programme, while the University of Waikato has pledged $9 million.

The first stage will examine options for growing macroalgal species like kelp and sea lettuce alongside existing mussel farms. Later stages will extract valuable bioproducts for use in fertilisers, animal feed supplements, cosmetics and other initiatives.

Dr Magnusson will move from her role as a senior research fellow at Australia’s James Cook University in Townsville. She’ll be joined by other senior academics as well as post-graduate students.

She is a senior research fellow of the university’s College of Science and Engineering department, with more than 10 years’ experience in the fields of algal biology, biochemistry, and product development.

Chris says New Zealand needs to attract top research talent and the Entrepreneurial Universities initiative is one way of doing that.

During the next three years, the initiative is expected to bring 15-20 world-leading researchers and their teams to New Zealand.


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