A food innovation hub is still on the cards for Hawke's Bay and Sapere Research Group has been appointed to carry out a feasibility study for the creation.
Sapere Research Group was chosen for its extensive experience in completing feasibility and business cases.
The study and business case is aimed at encouraging collaboration, innovation, research and development in food, beverage and agricultural technology sectors.
The Food Innovation Hub project has already received a grant of $200,000 from the government's Provincial Growth Fund.
The hub would bring together businesses and stakeholders in the food, beverage and agricultural technology sectors to collaborate and conduct research and development.
Along with the government grant, regional entities including Hastings District Council, Napier City Council and 13 other organisations engaged in the food, beverage and agri-tech sectors contributed $35,000 towards the study and business case.
A discovery phase report was completed in the third quarter of 2017 with input from more than 50 food and beverage-focused organisations in Hawke's Bay which confirmed strong interest in the concept.
The Hastings District Council's economic development team was leading that phase of the project, reporting to the Matariki REDS Governance Group that oversees the region's economic development strategy and identified the project as a regional priority.
Hastings District Council group manager for economic growth Craig Cameron said the appointment of Sapere Research Group was a positive step on the way to the establishment of a Hawke's Bay Innovation Food Hub.
"Everyone involved is very appreciative of the support from Government to get this project closer to reality for Hawke's Bay's food, beverage and agri-tech industries.
"This is a unique opportunity to potentially establish a facility that will ultimately help bring about business growth and innovation, drive investment and economic growth and create jobs."
The study and business case stage of the project is planned for completion early next year.
The overall project was being managed by a stakeholder group of industry and council representatives.
Further funding was likely to be needed to set up the hub, which is estimated to cost about $20 million.