26 Aug 2019

More than $4m from Provincial Growth Fund for AI and high-end food development

9:49 am on 26 August 2019

Artificial intelligence in the aquaculture industry and high-end food development are the latest initiatives to receive funding support from the government's Provincial Growth Fund.

Nelson and Tasman Bay, Nelson generic

Millions of dollars of spending from the Provincial Growth Fund has been announced for initiatives in the Nelson region. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

In Nelson on Friday, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, announced the Stoke-based peanut butter company Picot Productions would receive $778,000 dollars from the PGF.

Picot would use the money to help build a facility that would contain several enclosed, fully equipped, commercial kitchens so aspiring food and beverage entrepreneurs could test their products, Mr Tabuteau said.

Advice and support would be on hand, along with market opportunities and exposure to visitors and the tourist market.

Fletcher Tabuteau

Fletcher Tabuteau. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"The Top of the South region is known for its high value horticulture products, as well as artisan products such as cider, cheeses, olive oil and baked goods. The Food Factory will provide start up food companies with a collaborative environment to develop new food products," Mr Tabuteau said.

Mr Tabuteau also announced $3.4 million from the PGF had been allocated to establish an Artificial Intelligence Institute in Nelson, which would focus initially on using AI in the aquaculture industry in a region.

About 70 percent of the country's aquaculture industry was in the region and there was potential to help grow the industry through AI, Mr Tabuteau said.

"The term 'artificial intelligence' is simply the use of mathematical tools that enable discoveries and decisions to be made quickly and easily when there are large datasets that are impossible to manually analyse.

"The proposal is a mix of commercial activity, with a strong education focus involving the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, and over time, the Institute will expand into different sectors and across the country."

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