Can I firstly, applaud the Pure Advantage team for providing a portal for sharing information and inspiration on how New Zealand can retain and improve its green image by unashamedly linking it to the economy and how the country can thrive!
Don’t get me wrong, I am totally supportive of protecting the environment but all too often, we focus on environmental ideals in isolation, without tying them back to how we can also generate wealth, create jobs and support innovation. The Pure Advantage mission sits nicely alongside the mission for which I am the General Manager – The Bioresource Processing Alliance, or BPA.
The BPA is a Government initiative, funded by The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for six years with the core partners being AgResearch, Callaghan Innovation, Plant and Food Research and Scion. The programme was established as a means of addressing the volumes of under-utilised waste streams from the primary sector and at the same time, developing innovative products for export.
The BPA’s mission is to support companies and organisations in the development of high-value products from biological waste streams by funding science projects within the partner organisations and in universities. The BPA has $2.5m p.a. to contribute towards projects and by working with organisations who can commercialise products, we aim to help companies generate another $100m in export revenue by 2020.
Pure Advantage goals align with the BPA’s mandate by way of encouraging collaboration. BPA projects must be collaborative as a way of cross-pollinating ideas from research organisations that have complementary skills and expertise. By drawing on science traditionally used in one sector for use in a sector that is new, we have the opportunity to develop novel approaches to products that may well give companies that competitive advantage they are after. We also have the Virtual Pilot Plant Network (VPPN)– a free collaborative resource for organisations to share equipment in order to undertake trials or test products or to save them investing in infrastructure before they are ready.
The BPA also aims to retain capability in New Zealand – another way the BPA’s and Pure Advantage’s goals are in line. By encouraging young scientists in their early stage research and by working alongside companies to enhance their own internal expertise and support their R&D initiatives, we increase the opportunities for New Zealanders to further invest in the country’s future.
Some organisations may have a waste stream that they are looking to get better value out of and may be interested in investing in the infrastructure required to branch out into new areas of opportunity. Others may be looking for a waste stream in order to develop an innovative product for export markets. Either way, we are keen to connect parties who can mutually benefit from working with each other and/or with us in order to reduce waste and generate revenue for New Zealand.
We work with a wide range of companies from diverse sectors including forestry, aquaculture, horticulture and food and beverage industries. Projects have involved turning avocado waste into high value nutraceuticals, finding innovative solutions for marine pest species, developing pet food products from waste streams and transforming low-grade kiwifruit into a range of high-grade offerings.
Interestingly, a good number of projects have resulted in collaborations between companies in the same industry and in unrelated industries – all of whom see the bigger picture about working in teams in order to create strategic advantages for New Zealand’s exporters. Excitingly, more and more organisations are seeing that waste streams that have previously created headaches may now have the opportunity to create wealth and I welcome the chance to hear from anyone who may be in this boat. By changing the way we think about our waste streams by seeing them more as opportunities to minimise stress on the environment and generate additional revenue, we are well on the way to reaching the $100m export revenue target.