Research facility to automate horticulture launched

Wellington, July 14, 2017

Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today that a new Regional Research Institute based in Tauranga that will leverage the Bay of Plenty’s strengths in horticulture to accelerate and commercialise research and innovation for the benefit of the region.

The following is a statement issued by him.

Plantech: the New Zealand Institute for Technology and Innovation in Premium Plant-based Value Chains, led by economic development agency Priority One, is the fourth successful proposal under the Government’s initiative to establish new Regional Research Institutes.

Significant contributor

Horticulture is a significant contributor to the Bay of Plenty’s economy and by connecting the existing skills, knowledge and resources, this new institute will make an exciting test-bed for research and technology development that could potentially transform the sector.

The Government will provide funding of $8.42 million over five years for the new institute alongside additional funding from industry, and it will operate as a private, independently governed organisation.

Digital automation

Plantech will initially focus on research to enable digital automation of devices for growers, including robotics and digital sensing, with the aim of becoming a leader in supporting customised, precise and automated production systems that are accessible for businesses at a range of scales.

This research will increase effective development, adoption and adaptation of new technology which will improve the productivity and sustainability of the Horticulture sector. This has the potential to drive significant economic benefits for the region.

Toi Moana BoP Plan

The announcement of the new institute through the Regional Research Institute initiative comes as the Bay of Plenty launches its refreshed Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan.

The Action Plan is a regionally led collaboration between local and central government, business and iwi that aims to increase jobs, income and investment in the Bay of Plenty. Regional economic development is a key part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda and is supported through the Regional Growth Programme.

More information can be found on the MBIE website, HERE.

About Regional Research Institutes

Regional Research Institutes were announced as part of Budget 2015.

In Budget 2016, the Government set aside $40 million of additional funds to support this initiative, bringing the total funding available to $65 million.

The Regional Research Institute initiative seeks to maximise the unique business, technology and economic growth opportunities in our regions by establishing research centres that help build research and development intensity and lift innovation in key regional industries.

More information on the Regional Research Institutes initiative is available at

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