The Government has invested $7.7 million in a research innovation hub which was officially opened today by the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Ayesha Verrall.
A $7.7 million science and research lab was opened on Wednesday – its tenant scientists contributing to the growing field of mRNA vaccine research.
Te Pā Harakeke (“the flax field”), is part of Callaghan Innovation’s Gracefield site in Lower Hutt, home to more than 200 leading scientists, researchers and technicians, and a suite of tenant businesses.
Callaghan Innovation is government-owned, its primary mandate is to encourage innovation and accelerate the commercialization of new ideas.
The 560 square meter building was opened by the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr. Ayesha Verrall.
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Its current tenant is the Ferrier Research Institute, part of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, which has moved out of aging buildings into safe and adaptable work spaces.
The lab, with its flexible modular design created by Lower Hutt-based firm Niche Modular, was built off-site before being relocated to Gracefield, and can be reconfigured for different uses.
The lab “could be used for things such as developing new vaccines for fighting Covid-19”, Verrall said.
“This modular, flexible ‘turn-key’ type of lab can enable scientists, researchers and innovators to carry out their work without having to build their own capital-intensive facilities,” Verrall said.
Callaghan’s acting chief executive, Stefan Korn, said spaces like this acted as “catalysts of innovation activity in New Zealand, providing co-location of research and shared connection and services”.
The team is made up of experts in carbohydrate, analytical and bio-chemistry, planning to work on site with lipid nanoparticles to build research and manufacturing capacity for mRNA vaccines and related technologies.
Ferrier director Richard Furneaux said Te Pā Harakeke would provide the institute with access to new best-practice laboratories and workspaces to grow their existing capability in biotechnologies.