Kiwi company Heilala Vanilla has its roots in a Tongan plantation, its headquarters in Tauranga and a market for its fragrant products among the world's most discerning chefs and retailers.
A few years ago, Heilala turned to Massey University to help turn its beans into premium value added products that could be marketed to foodies around the world.
The collaboration between Massey and Heilala is a unique partnership between a market focused business (Heilala Vanilla), applied and fundamental research understanding (Associate Professor Marie Wong from the institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Heath at Massey University) and support of a tertiary education through student sponsorship.
It is providing innovation and business growth for Heilala Vanilla which has led to export revenue growth of 159% over the last three financial years.
The vanilla products are now sold in NZ, Australia, Japan, Denmark, Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong and the USA.
With such a strong relationship, it’s not surprising that the benefits flow both ways.
As an innovative, horticulture-related business, Heilala provides exactly the right kind of opportunities for New Zealand food technology students and Massey University delivers market focused research leading to strong export revenue growth and ongoing commercialisation opportunities.
This partnership was a finalist in the 2014 KiwiNet Awards.