New research institute for Tauranga

File photo.

A new multi-million dollar regional research institute based in Tauranga that will leverage the Bay of Plenty's strengths in horticulture has been launched today.

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.

"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," says science and innovation minister Paul Goldsmith.

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.

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," says Paul.

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.



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On the ’Bird Walk’, Katikati looking over the Uretara stream to the Kaimai ranges. Photo: Glenice McDonald.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz