Build it … but will they come?

Construction is proceeding on another Hawke’s Bay business ‘hub’, this one for food producers, called foodeast-haumako. It’s touted as “Hawke’s Bay’s home of food and beverage innovation”.

Funded with $12 million from the original Primary Growth Fund (now Kānoa, the Government’s Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit), the hub’s ownership is now vested with HBRC’s Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), the majority shareholder, plus Hastings District Council and primary sector entrepreneur Craig Hickson.

Stakeholders and guests were invited to an unveiling of the ‘Innovation Factory’ part of the facility, scheduled for completion in November, while the companion ‘Innovation Centre’ building is scheduled for completion by March 2024.

Progressive Meats founder Hickson commented on the catalyst aspirations for the facility: “It is going to be very interesting to see what develops out of the bouncing of ideas and the brainstorming you get from having a range of forward-thinking people in a site dedicated to innovation.”

How is that supposed to happen?

Although ‘interest’ is said to be keen, so far sponsors have identified one company that has indicated it is considering locating at the facility, Hastings-based Skybright, a company looking to develop fermentation-derived novel protein products. Says Skybright Director Steve Boggs, “We consider that foodeast-haumako offers an enhanced fit-for-purpose facility where we can develop and test our products for the local and international markets. We are very keen to see it reach its potential.”

Foodeast-haumako board chairman Craig Foss said that the spaces would be flexible, with some parts long-term leased and others available for booking for a range of uses including collaboration, demonstrations, events, and education and training. A small dedicated foodeast-haumako team will be focused on matching businesses with product innovation specialists able to help them develop, test and commercialise their products.


First published by BayBuzz.