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Crown research unit set to reap benefits

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017 Rebecca Howard

Crown research institute Plant & Food Research is about the reap the benefits from its first commercial partnership - the Innovation Cell.

It is a venture aimed at bringing together science and marketing expertise to rapidly develop, prototype and launch new products and ingredients that promote health and wellbeing.

The partnership began when it teamed up with Anagenix, a company that makes products that leverage bioactives found in fruits and plants grown in New Zealand.

"It's a collaboration between a large organisation that is focused and excellent at science and a small, nimble organisation that has to run fast on its feet and grow sales in order to survive," said Anagenix managing director Chris Johnson.

According to Plant & Food Research group general manager commercial David Hughes, the aim was to get a product to market quickly.

"It may not be the perfect product, it will just be a product to market. The plan is to simultaneously develop new versions of the product and deep the science we've got."

Mr Hughes said the partnership - the first of its kind for Plant & Food Research - was aimed at testing a business model that allows small businesses to tap into scientific resources.

The aim is to roll it out to other companies. "We aren't just prototyping products but we are prototyping a business model," he said.

"Science is a big ticket item and most of the science structures we have in the country actually favour large organisations with long timelines so we are trying to figure out ways of doing that with small companies," he said.

Innovation Cell's first product is BerriQi, a liquid supplement where the main ingredient is the boysenberry, largely grown in Nelson.

New Zealand is the world's largest producer and international marketer of the fruit, which, according to Innovation Cell, has properties that help repair damaged lung tissue and reduce inflammation and mucus production.

New Zealand produces around 3000 tonnes of the fruit a year with the bulk going to export. Exports were around $4 million in 2016.

It opted to target China due to growing concern about the impact of pollution in Asian nations, in particular, urban centres like Beijing and Shanghai. They expect to sign the first distribution agreement in Shanghai on June 19.

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