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Rotorua to host global biotech conference

The world’s top international agricultural biotechnology conference is heading to New Zealand in 2012, putting the spotlight on environmental, social, and economic change under the umbrella theme ‘Adapting to a Changing World’.

The world’s top international agricultural biotechnology conference is heading to New Zealand in 2012, putting the spotlight on environmental, social, and economic change under the umbrella theme ‘Adapting to a Changing World’.

NZBIO, which represents New Zealand’s biotechnology industry, has been announced as host of ABIC 2012 – the annual conference of the Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference.

NZBIO chair Maxine Simmons said securing hosting rights was a huge coup and offered the opportunity to advance agbiotech in this part of the world.

“New Zealand is an acknowledged leader in biological science. The application of this expertise supports, and adds tremendous value to, our primary industries. This international conference will put the spotlight on the breadth and depth of our capabilities and innovation in agbiotech," she said.

“As host of ABIC 2012, we can also facilitate robust international debate on important global issues.”

Delegates from around the world, including industry leaders, researchers and scientists, investors and policy-makers, are expected at the conference in Rotorua in September next year to learn about the latest advances in agbiotech and discuss how technologies can be applied to global issues such as sustainability, food production and health and nutrition.

NZBIO said support from AusBiotech, Australia’s biotechnology organisation, was central to New Zealand winning the bid, and the two bodies would work closely to demonstrate the contribution the region can make to the sector.

In the last financial year, agriculture generated more than NZ$24.5 billion in exports.

NZBIO chief executive Michelle Sullivan said ABIC 2012 would have both a research and a commercial focus.

“Both New Zealand and Australia are known for ideas, innovation and cutting edge agbiotech technologies but this is very much a global industry and that means our companies need the right partnerships and investment to take their innovations to the world.

“ABIC 2012 will provide a forum to forge collaborations and joint ventures with premium partners.”

Kiwi expat Dr John Bedbrook, vice president of DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology, has already been confirmed as a speaker. Dr Bedbrook has a PhD from the University of Auckland, was a Fulbright Scholar to Harvard Medical School, and is at the forefront of molecular breeding.

“New Zealand is an exciting hub for agricultural biotechnology given the quality of research carried out there, the level of entrepreneurship and its position as a major food producer," he said.

Organisers said Rotorua was an excellent location for the conference given its sightseeing attractions and proximity to facilities such as crown research institute Scion, Waikato University and the Waikato Innovation Hub, AgResearch’s Ruakura facility and the Clean Energy Centre in Taupo.

ABIC conferences are held every four years, supported by the ABIC Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation based in Saskatchewan.