Pic Picot is wanting to set up an "inventor centre" in Nelson. Photo: Jonty Dine.

‘Inventor centre’ mooted for Nelson

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The man behind a multimillion-dollar peanut butter empire is now wanting to set up an “inventor centre” to allow others to follow in his footsteps.

Pic Picot, who started Pic’s Peanut Butter in 2007 at the Nelson Market, cut the ribbon on the company’s new $10 million factory on Saxton Rd over the weekend.

No sooner had that task been completed and he was talking about his next mission.

“I need a new challenge,” he says.

That means a vision to set up a space, close to his factory, where aspiring food manufacturers can test their ideas out in a real commercial space.

“I think we have such an opportunity to do something by sharing ideas.”

He wants to build a basic warehouse with help from the Government’s regional growth fund and fit it out as a factory space – complete with shared facilities, chillers and a smoko room.

“That’s where the ideas percolate and where you build up collegiality.”

It would offer cheap space to first time creators or those needing a second space to build their brands.

“If they want to have a crack at making the tomato sauce their mother used to make and always thought they could make a fortune off it – here is a chance to experiment with it and try selling it at the Nelson Market and see if they can make a go of it.”

It would also serve as a space where Pic’s could do new product development. He says it could help cement Nelson’s place in the country as an innovator in the food manufacturing space.

His first experience with such a set up was in the 1980s when he was involved with a cooperative workshop in Auckland.

“I learned so much from that experience and we learned so much from each other. I always dreamed of establishing something like that again.”

He says the company has a lot of leftover machinery from past products.

“We would love to make that available. I’m sure there are other businesses around Nelson in the same position.”

The factory is a joint venture with Coman Construction and Pic says the company would be willing to provide the land for the inventor centre project.

Pic sees it as a place to help inspire people and have viewing areas where the public could see producers in action.

“People look at our factory and ask ‘how on earth they might have enough money to build that’. But it’s a stage thing. We want people to say ‘I could do this’. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

He says the first step is hearing from interested people and seeing what sort of space they would need.

Then the process of putting together an application to the regional growth fund can begin.

The Government has committed to investing $1 billion a year over three years in the regional economic development fund.

It aims to lift productivity potential in the provinces by enhancing economic development opportunities.

Those interested in the project can email Pic at inventor@picspeanutbutter.com