Innovation Awards success for Primary Growth Partnership programmes

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Media contact: MPI media team
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Two Primary Growth Partnership programmes have taken out Innovation Awards at last night's New Zealand Innovation Awards.

The SPATnz Primary Growth Partnership programme won the Innovation in Agribusiness & Environment category.  The Omega Lamb Project took out the Innovation Award in the Innovation in Food & Beverage category.

The Omega Lamb Project was also Highly Commended in the Innovation Excellence in Research category.

Justine Gilliland, Director Investment Programmes at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), says the wins are testament to the substantial investment in innovation by the programme partners.

"The Innovation Awards are fitting recognition of the significant amount of time, expertise, effort and money invested into SPATnz and The Omega Lamb Project to date," says Ms Gilliland.

"We're very proud of SPATnz's and The Omega Lamb Project's achievements to date and excited at what they will mean for our seafood and red meat industries in the future.

"These programmes are developing value-added products for consumers, delivering returns for our seafood and red meat industries, helping to lift environmental knowledge, practices and tools, and could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to New Zealand's economy."

SPATnz, a collaboration between MPI and Sanford, is tackling the age-old challenge of a reliance on growing Greenshell™ mussels from wild mussel spat washed up on 90 Mile Beach or caught on lines in Golden Bay.

"SPATnz is well on the way to breeding Greenshell™ mussels in captivity at commercial scale with the characteristics demanded by consumers, as well as providing a consistent supply of spat," says Ms Gilliland.  "This will literally transform our Greenshell™ mussel industry."

The Omega Lamb Project is a collaboration between MPI, food company Alliance Group and a group of innovative farmers known as Headwaters.  It's targeting premium markets with a new type of lamb with higher levels of polyunsaturated (good) fats and omega-3 fatty acids.

"The Omega Lamb Project is taking a new approach to naturally breeding, raising, processing and marketing premium New Zealand lamb," says Ms Gilliland.  "It's producing healthier, more resilient sheep, along with healthy, tasty, and succulent meat.

"The first product from the programme, TE MANA LAMB™, was launched in New Zealand and Hong Kong premium restaurants this year.  Interest in this product is high, and it's receiving glowing reviews from leading chefs and food critics.

"As these wins at the Innovation Awards show, SPATnz and The Omega Lamb Project are adding significant value to our primary industries, and pushing the envelope of what's possible," says Ms Gilliland.  "This is at the heart of the Primary Growth Partnership."

The Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) is MPI's flagship investment programme.  It invests in large innovation programmes that progress opportunities or tackle challenges facing New Zealand's primary industries.

It currently involves around $759 million of committed investment and more than 60 companies.  PGP programmes are independently estimated to add $6.4 billion to New Zealand's GDP from 2025.

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