New Zealand agriculture doesn't need "the latest fad from America," according to New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science (NZIAHS) president, Jon Hickford.
The Minister of Tertiary Education, Paul Goldsmith, joined AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson, Lincoln University chancellor Steve Smith, vice-chancellor Robin Pollard and Selwyn MP Amy Adams wielding spades on the site, formerly occupied by the quake-damaged Hilgendorf complex.
The 27,000 sq.m building will house about 300 AgResearch staff including its corporate headquarters, a similar number of Lincoln University staff and about 75 DairyNZ staff.
Parts of it will be complete in 2019 and the remainder in 2020.
The Burns Wing, standing on the Springs Road side of the site, has yet to be demolished to make way for the new building.
The facility will be jointly owned by AgResearch and the university with DairyNZ as a tenant.
It has been planned around the concept of bringing together staff from the disparate organisations, as well as Lincoln students, in a collaborative environment to enhance agricultural science and education.
“The connections forged inside this facility are going to mean a new era of top quality science and impact for agriculture, which will in turn mean more prosperous communities across New Zealand,” says AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson.
“It is also going to be a huge drawcard for the smartest minds to join in our research and keep us at the cutting edge.”
Lincoln University chancellor Steve Smith called it an historic day.
“The opportunity for Lincoln University – one which we intend to seize – is to unleash the potential inherent in having our teachers and students working alongside and partnering with the leading-edge scientists from AgResearch, other CRIs and industry.”
“The real power in learning and research comes from proximity: human relationships, being in the same space, chance conversations and the synergies observed between different academic and scientific disciplines,” Smith said.
Vice-chancellor Dr Robin Pollard called the building a means to an end.
“What really matters is to have staff students and colleagues in the CRIs to come together and work together though collaboration in ways that improve the outcomes.
“Lincoln is multidisciplinary but many of those people have not been involved in AgResearch-type projects, so the nature of research will change as well, I think,” said Pollard.
“My plan for Lincoln is to be completely open to collaboration.”
The project has been closely linked to the Lincoln Hub concept through the planning stages but is not being officially described as the hub building. Pollard referred to confusion about naming the facility.
The Lincoln Hub company, a joint venture between Lincoln University, AgResearch, Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research and DairyNZ, is already in operation as a facilitator and co-ordinator of joint projects, but Pollard said it would not “immediately” be a tenant in the new building.