he New Zealand Government and the University of Waikato are investing $13 million in a new research program in Tauranga aimed at helping tackle some of the biggest issues facing New Zealand’s primary sector. The project, part of the Entrepreneurial Universities program administered by the Tertiary Education Commission, will see leading Australian-based expert Dr. Marie Magnusson relocate to Tauranga to set up the algal research program.
“This is an exciting development for the University of Waikato, Tauranga and the whole of New Zealand,” New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This type of research and technology will be critical as we look for solutions for things like reducing cattle methane emissions, limiting nutrient run-off from pasture, and fighting agricultural and horticultural diseases in an environmentally sustainable way.”
The first stage will examine options for growing macroalgal species like kelp and sea lettuce alongside existing mussel farms. Later stages will extract valuable bioproducts for use in fertilizers, animal feed supplements, cosmetics and other initiatives.
Dr. Magnusson is a Senior Research Fellow in the James Cook University College of Science and Engineering, with over 10 years of experience in the fields of algal biology, biochemistry, and product development. Her research is focused on ways to utilize algae (macro and micro) and algal extracts to develop human food and nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products for improved health outcomes, and to develop biotechnology products based on algal polysaccharides with unique gelling and functional properties.
Dr. Magnusson will be joined by other senior academics as well as post-graduate students. Over the next three years, the initiative is expected to bring 15-20 world-leading researchers and their teams to New Zealand.