8 Oct 2015

Cawthron adds $1m a month to economy

2:07 pm on 8 October 2015

b] New Zealand's largest independently-owned science organisation is tipped to add more than $200 million to GDP and create hundreds of jobs in coming years.

Cawthron Institute

Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

An economic report released in Nelson today by Minister for Economic Development, and Science and Innovation Steven Joyce showed the Cawthron Institute was now one of Nelson's largest business services exporters.

The report was prepared by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and revealed the Cawthron's 200 staff brought earnings of $1 million a month to the economy. Turnover has grown $5m from $18m in the last three years.

The Cawthron Institute was opened in 1921, on the proceeds of Nelson benefactor Thomas Cawthron, who died 100 years ago today, leaving the bulk of his fortune to set up what was New Zealand's first science organisation.

Its focus is now on applied research for commercial production and development, particularly for aquaculture.

The Cawthron said this model had been used to develop Greenshell mussels and Pacific oysters, and research projects were underway to repeat the model for at least four other species.

Mr Joyce said the Cawthron was a major economic contributor to the Nelson region with a national and global reach, and its future successes could boost New Zealand's GDP by $201.7m and create a further 539 jobs in the industries its research supported, which are predicted to grow.

Mr Joyce said the institute had been recognised by the government as an example for other regions.

"Cawthorn has been an inspiration for an initiative that we announced earlier this year, which is the plans to operate more privately-led regional research institutes around the county. The idea is to support innovation in particular areas outside the main centres and we've very much taken the inspiration from here."

Cawthron chief executive Charles Eason said the report emphasised the "outstanding benefits" regional research centres could deliver for New Zealand.

Cawthron chief executive, Charles Eason.

Cawthron chief executive, Charles Eason. Photo: RNZ/Tracy Neal

Earlier this year, the Government used the Cawthron Institute as an example for how other research institutes should deliver regional science.

More than 90 percent of the Cawthron's services were exports from Nelson to the rest of the country or overseas.

Professor Eason said it was among the region's largest exporters of business services and contributed $14m in added value to the local economy. About half its revenue was from Government with the remainder from private sector clients.

Over the past three years, it has recorded more than $3m in annual export earnings, mainly from selling high-tech analytical services and products to several countries including Australia, the USA, Japan and within Europe.

Professor Eason said it had longstanding international research collaborations with leading research organisations world-wide including Japan, USA, China, Australia, France and the United Kingdom.

The institute works with local tertiary education provider, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology to provide aquaculture studies. The partnership has led to the establishment of a teaching facility at Cawthron Aquaculture Park in north Nelson.

Cawthron Institute chairman Ian Kearney said the institute's continued success was a "testament to the incredible legacy Thomas Cawthron left behind".

"Thanks to his inspiring vision 100 years ago, we have this world-leading science organisation, with 200 top scientists and specialist staff who every day are solving big scientific problems for the benefit of New Zealand's environment and economy," Mr Kearney said.

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