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Posted: March 31, 2008
$3.8 Million for New Zealand Biotechnology Projects
(Nanowerk News) Biotechnology projects - including one aimed at growing pastures that would see cows produce less methane - shared $3.2 million funding in grants announced this evening.
Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson said the three trans-Tasman biotechnology projects would get the grants under the Australia New Zealand Biotechnology Partnership Fund.
The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise administered fund covered up to 25 percent of project costs, with the New Zealand partner contributing another 25 percent and the Australian partner making up the remaining 50 percent.
NZ Agriseeds would get $1.5m to develop designer pasture endophytes (plant bacteria or fungus) with Australian partner Molecular Plant Breeding CRC Ltd (MPBCRC). This would allow the development of new pasture grass with improved benefits such as heat tolerance, water efficiency and insect resistance.
PGG Wrightson Genomics Limited a subsidiary of PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd would get $2m to co-develop new pasture grasses adapted to warmer environments with Australian partner Molecular Plant Breeding CRC Ltd (MPBCRC). The new grasses aimed to have improved plant performance and reduced methane emissions and open up new market opportunities in countries affected by climate change.
Australo Limited would get $281,250 to develop a novel diagnostic tool with the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), University of Queensland, aimed at detecting and measuring single biomolecules (eg DNA) for use in a variety of applications including virus particle detection and medical diagnostics.
Mr Hodgson said the joint approach strengthened the position of New Zealand's biotech industry locally, in Australia and internationally.
Grants totalling up to $10 million have previously been awarded to nine companies, covering a wide range of biotech projects including the commercialisation of bone graft technology, cancer therapy, nerve repair and a blood-typing product aimed at eradicating potentially life threatening blood transfusion reactions in Asian patients.