South Island-based Mt Cook Alpine Salmon has been awarded significant Government investment, which will help refine and maintain its fully integrated operation. Callaghan Innovation is a Government agency set up to support hi-tech businesses in New Zealand, by increasing investment in research and development (R&D) to support long-term economic growth. The agency awards funding grants which support businesses by adding scale to existing R&D investment.
Chief Operating Officer for Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, Janine Tulloch said the company was “thrilled” to receive the grant as R&D was an integral part of their business. “R&D underpins everything we do,” she said. “We’re developing a culture of continuous improvement and are keen not to simply adopt best practice but to be setting the new benchmarks. Increasingly, our high-end overseas customers are demanding it.”
“As a result of our uniqueness, in 22 years of operation we haven’t had any benchmarking structures from other farms like ours to follow, so we’ve worked hard to generate and fine-tune all our operations in-house.
“The business has now grown to the point where Callaghan Innovation recognises the growing for an operation like ours to be constantly innovating to meet growing demand for sustainable salmon like ours.”
To be eligible for funding, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon has committed to spending at least $300,000 a year on R&D, 20% of which is reimbursed back to the company by Callaghan Innovation.
Established by the Government in 2013, Callaghan Innovation was tasked with making more of New Zealand’s businesses innovative. The agency takes its name from prominent Kiwi physicist Sir Paul Callaghan who died in 2012. Thirteen businesses have received the R&D growth grant for 2015, worth a total of $25.5m over the next three years.
Mt Cook Salmon was recently recognised as one of the most sustainable salmon farming operations worldwide. Seafood Watch, owned by the prestigious US Monterey Bay Aquarium, gave Mt Cook Alpine Salmon a ‘green card’ and the highest ever rating for a freshwater farm in the world.
Located in Twizel and overshadowed by iconic Mt Cook, the Mt Cook Salmon farm attributes cold glacial waters, high altitude and isolated environment to its product supremacy. Its sustainability credentials also include Best Aquaculture Practice certification from the Global Aquaculture Alliance, the first salmon producer in Australasia to earn such recommendation.
Farmed at Twizel, the fish is processed through its modern purpose-build factory in Timaru, with the majority of the harvested fish going to export markets around the world – from the Far East to the USA. The company reported an impressive growth of more than 50% last year.
As part of the funding application, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon outlined an R&D programme that would be a focus over the next three years. The programme includes new product development, operational equipment development, as well as a reduction in quality ‘defects’ and overall site development and improvement.
“The funding now means we can allocate additional resources to R&D and continue to develop our business,” said Tulloch.