Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

200 AgResearch jobs to be relocated

AgResearch CEO Dr Tom Richardson. Photo / Supplied
AgResearch CEO Dr Tom Richardson. Photo / Supplied

Nearly 200 jobs at AgResearch will be relocated to Lincoln and Palmerston North with the Government today signing off on a new $133 million reconfiguration.

The approval of the Crown research institute's Future Footprint Programme means 199 jobs across the insitute's four sites would be relocated to its Grasslands (Palmerston North) and Lincoln campuses over the next four years as construction of facilities was completed.

The campuses at Grasslands and Lincoln would sit within "science innovation hubs", bringing together research organisations, tertiary institutions and industry.

In Palmerston North, "FoodHQ" would support the largest collection of food science capability across organisations in New Zealand, while the Lincoln Hub would bring together Lincoln University, AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research and Plant and Food Research.

Teams would continue to be maintained at AgResearch's Ruakura (Hamilton) and Invermay campuses to focus on regional and specific farm systems and environmental issues.

The business case was updated earlier this year to include expanded plans for the programme since it was first approved by Government in 2013.

"We've done a lot more work with research and sector partners to expand the scope of innovation hubs," AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson said.

"This has resulted in more ambitious plans with a wider range of partners and increased the scope of our building plans."

AgResearch would self-fund the programme through cash reserves, asset sales and debt.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said ministers had made clear their expectations that AgResearch implement the business case successfully.

"It is also our expectation that AgResearch will consult ministers further in advance of key construction commitments for both the Palmerston North and Lincoln building projects."

The approval follows a major shake-up at AgResearch last year that resulted in 78 jobs being axed - the bulk of them from Grasslands.

- NZ Herald

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