The creation of the Hawke's Bay Food Innovation Hub is a step closer after a $215,000 grant from central Government's Provincial Growth Fund was announced today.

A Food Innovation Hub would bring together businesses and stakeholders in the food, beverage and agricultural technology sectors to collaborate and conduct research and development.

The grant will help fund a feasibility study and business case for the project, which has the support of Hastings District Council, Napier City Council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and businesses.

Hastings District Council, Napier City Council and 13 other organisations engaged in the food, beverage and agri-tech sectors have contributed another $35,000 towards the study and business case.

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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 real interest in the concept.

The project also had support from other entities including Business Hawke's Bay, Food Innovation Network (FINZ), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Central Hawke's Bay District Council, Wairoa District Council and the University of Waikato.

The project is being managed by a stakeholder group made up of representatives from industry and councils. It is expected that this next stage the project will be completed by October/November 2018.

Further funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is likely to be needed to set up the hub, which has an estimated cost of $20 million. The Provincial Growth Fund is a $1 billion per annum investment over three years to ensure regional New Zealand can thrive through productive, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Hastings District Council's economic development team is leading this phase of the project, reporting to the Matariki REDS Governance Group which oversees the region's economic development strategy. The Matariki REDS Governance Group has identified this project as a regional priority.

HDC's group manager economic growth, Craig Cameron, said the funding announcement for the next stage was very welcome.

"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 Food Innovation Hub facility that will ultimately facilitate business growth and innovation, drive investment and economic growth and create jobs."

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