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AgResearch confirms downsizing
21
Apr '10
AgResearch confirmed that between 35 and 36 scientific, engineering and technical positions will be disestablished at the Institute in the areas of textiles, wool biology, dairy foods, food safety, parasitology, reproductive biology, developmental biology, protein structure, biomembranes and bioprocessing.

The Institute also aims to sell its Textiles Testing Unit and will substantially decrease the scope and scale of its textiles pilot plant. Simultaneously, the Institute will relocate ten research positions between its campuses. The combined effect of downsizing and relocation means that its Ruakura campus,Hamilton, will reduce at this moment by between 17 and 18 positions, its Grasslands Palmerston North campus will increase by a net two positions, its Lincoln, Canterbury campus will reduce by a net 15 positions and its Invermay, Dunedin campus will reduce by 5.5 positions. The Institute currently employs a total of around 900 fulltime-equivalent positions.

AgResearch Chief Executive, Dr Andrew West said “This is mainly a loss of capacity rather than a complete loss of capability. The areas of most significant withdrawal are in the biology of wool, where we have made almost all capability redundant, and in textiles processing and products, where capacity has been halved and the pilot plant for developing sophisticated, novel textiles has largely gone. AgResearch has supported its wool biology research with internal resources and Capability Funding for five years. Moreover, just three years back AgResearch also invested over $20 million to acquire Canesis Ltd and its associated land and buildings to protect scientific capability in woollen products and wool processing in support of the sheep industry. Since then wool research funding has severely eroded to the point that we have chosen to make scientific and technical talent redundant.”

“What has happened here is not a reflection on the quality and dedication of the affected scientists, engineers and technicians. They did well for New Zealand and the pastoral sector” said Dr West.

AgResearch continues to grow in other areas, including all aspects of environmental science (around 15 positions, being a mix of replacement and growth with a particular focus on the dairy industry) and select areas of food science (seven positions, also a mix of replacement and growth). Growth is sharpest in the science of greenhouse gas emissions from pastoral agriculture and associated carbon sequestration in soils. The Institute will also expand its scientific focus on biomaterials and is exploring a move into agritechnology research and development.

AgResearch Limited

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