Only a few months ago Pic Picot was thinking up his latest scheme – an ‘inventor centre’ where budding food entrepreneurs could create their dream products in a safe space.
Fast forward and now Pic’s ‘Food Factory’ has just received more than $750,000 from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.
“It’s just steamed along really,” says Pic. “We put the roof on last week.”
He says the concept of the place is somewhere people can try out their ideas and take them to market.
“It will be a supportive space where people can get help to develop ideas. What I really hope is that people in there help each other rather than having a whole bunch of ‘experts’ telling them what to do.”
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) also loaned Nelson Artificial Intelligence Institute Limited (NAII) a $3.4 million to help develop the economic and social opportunities the Artificial Intelligence Institute will bring to the Top of the South region.
Picot Productions will take the head lease of the Food Factory space where Pic can personally experiment, while the rest of the space will be managed by a trust.
A series of enclosed, fully-equipped commercial kitchens will allow aspiring food and beverage entrepreneurs to test their product’s concept, potential scalability and marketing in a supported, collaborative environment.
“Ideally we want people who will develop something and then scale up,” says Pic. “Then others will be able to come and watch how a business starts and maybe be inspired themselves, and that is really exciting.”
Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese says the council has a strong focus on adding value to our traditional industries and in a sustainable manner through the application of artificial intelligence technology.
Rachel says Nelson is the ideal location for such ventures, given our region’s reputation as a renowned centre for food production, aided by our favourable climate, quality soils and marine environment.
“We have the right ecosystem of producers, research and innovation, business talent, and a natural competitive advantage in the food and beverage sector to ensure the success of this venture,” she said.
The PGF has also provided $400,000 funding over two years to help grow the region’s economic development projects.