PGF supports artificial intelligence and high end food development in Top of the South

  • Fletcher Tabuteau
Regional Economic Development

 The Top of the South is set to benefit from Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) support for initiatives that include the establishment of an Artificial Intelligence Institute and a Food Factory for start-up food producers, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced in Nelson today.

 The investments totalling over $4.5 million are:

  • Nelson Artificial Intelligence Institute Limited (NAII) $3.4 million loan
  • The Food Factory (Picot Productions Ltd) $778,000
  • Economic development project delivery (Nelson District Council and Marlborough District Council) $400,000

“Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of a global revolution and I am pleased the PGF has recognised the economic and social opportunities the Artificial Intelligence Institute will bring to the Top of the South region and New Zealand as a whole,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

 “The Institute will focus initially on using artificial intelligence in the aquaculture industry in a region where 70 per cent of the country’s aquaculture industry is located and where untapped potential remains.

 “The term ‘artificial intelligence’ is simply the use of mathematical tools that enable discoveries and decisions to be made quickly and easily when there are large datasets that are impossible to manually analyse.

 “The proposal is a mix of commercial activity, with a strong education focus involving the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, and over time, the Institute will expand into different sectors and across the country.”

 Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says aquaculture could play a much bigger role in our primary sector if it is supported to respond to trends and forces shaping our future.

 “In the face of change, the Coalition Government is pursuing opportunities to strengthen our market position, to innovate, and to operate more sustainably. Aquaculture is already a success story and with a strong programme of innovation and co-investment with industry we can build on our premium high value products. Artificial intelligence has the potential to drive real improvements in monitoring, real-time information and data analysis to help to better manage farms,” Mr Nash said.

 “I am really excited the PGF is also supporting the construction of the Food Factory, an initiative spearheaded by Picot Productions Ltd, which produces Pic’s Peanut Butter,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

 “The Top of the South region is known for its high value horticulture products, as well as artisan products such as cider, cheeses, olive oil and baked goods. The Food Factory will provide start up food companies with a collaborative environment to develop new food products.

 “The finished project involves a series of enclosed, fully equipped, commercial kitchens to enable aspiring food and beverage entrepreneurs to test their product’s concept, potential scalability and marketing in a supported environment.  Advice and support will also be on hand, along with market opportunities and exposure to visitors and the tourist market.

 “The PGF has also provided $400,000 funding over two years to help grow the region’s other planned economic development projects.  This funding is consistent with the PGF’s commitment to support regions in the country with their regional economic development capability.

“These PGF investments announced today will build on the great strides the Top of the South region is already making and I’m proud that the PGF is maximising on the boundless opportunities in the region to be enjoyed by generations to come,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

Notes to editors

Funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated.  Payments are made once agreed milestones are met.  These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.