10 Oct 2012

State scientists surpass profit targets

2:46 pm on 10 October 2012

Two Crown Research institues are reporting succcessful years financially and scientifically, as they emerges from the first full year of reforms directed by a government taskforce.

The Crown Research Institutes have been through a government-directed reform process which took full effect about a year ago.

One of the big changes arising from that has been to allow CRIs greater control over what they do with core funding.

After three flat years financially Scion has posted a $1.5 million net profit for the past year - above budget - and it also lifted its revenue by about the same percentage.

Scion chief executive Warren Parker says scientific benefits stemming from the CRI taskforce changes are more important, such as a strategic alignment with industry.

He says reform process also brought it into closer alignment with the forestry sector and its strategies.

Scion projects have included working with the Rotorua District Council on a pilot-scale plant to treat municipal organic waste.

A partnership with a Portuguese company, Sonae Industria, has sped up product development for Scion's new wood plastic pellet technology, with the first commercial sales in Europe and the first royalty income expected within the next few months.

The country's largest science institute, AgResearch also exceeded its financial targets for the year with a surplus of $8.5 million and a net profit of more than $4 million.

In AgResearch's case, core funding makes up only about a quarter of its total revenue.

But chief executive Dr Tom Richardson says changes from the government-directed reform process have still had a major impact on being able to develop a closer relationship with the agricultural sector.

He says it means AgResearch can commit funding to a proposal it decides has merit, rather than having to make a joint bid with the sector to Wellington.