Research centre review confirms core purpose

A strategic review of the Marlborough Research Centre has renewed its focus, the organisation's annual report published yesterday says.

It has lifted the centre's profile and developed a promising international partnership.

Centre board chairman Ivan Sutherland said the review confirmed its core purpose as an umbrella organisation for the primary producers in the region, including wine and pastoral farming.

Mr Sutherland, chief executive Gerald Hope and centre trust chairman John Marris presented the annual report at the Marlborough District Council community and financial planning committee meeting in Blenheim yesterday.

The report showed a successful year despite challenging budget constraints, they said.

Highlights for the independent research centre included a major review of its profile, a new strategic plan, a promising international partnership and the launch of their revamped website, which went live yesterday.

Mr Sutherland said the review confirmed the core purpose of the centre as the umbrella organisation serving primary producers.

"The review has been timely, given the Government's signals that it is looking more than ever for science and innovation to generate more economic growth for this country."

Mr Hope said the strategic review was partly prompted by Marlborough District Council's decision to reduce its funding from $131,600 in 2010-11 to $44,200 in 2011-12.

However, the council's "smart and connected" vision for Marlborough had highlighted the benefits the research centre provided to the region, and it had decided to provide full funding again in June, he said.

About 95 per cent of the council's grant comes from rural ratepayers in a targeted rate.

Mr Marris reported a very strong balance sheet, despite the council's decision to reduce its funding.

They were pleased the council had reinstated full funding because it had been a cornerstone contributor since the centre was formed 28 years ago and was integral to the independent status, he said.

"I believe it's particularly important that the research centre maintains a close connection with our local authority."

Mr Hope, who represented the Marlborough Research Centre on a trip to a major independent research body in North Carolina in February, said the relationship held a lot of promise for Marlborough.

Mr Sutherland said the trip and the review highlighted the importance of raising the centre's profile as a unique independent research organisation.

"It is the unusual nature of the research centre's structure and networks that caught the attention of a global research organisation," he said.

The Marlborough Express