In the picture: Yili Group Chairman Mr Gang Pan and Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West.
A Chinese dairy company and its New Zealand subsidiary have established a new research and development centre at Lincoln University following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing last year.
Lincoln University and the Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group (Yili) signed the MoU in November in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinpeng and Prime Minister John Key.
To build on this partnership, Dr Philip Wescombe – the newly-recruited Research and Development Manager of Yili and its New Zealand subsidiary, Oceania Dairy – is now based on the Lincoln University campus, some 11,000km from Yili’s headquarters in Hohhot City, China.
“This is an important milestone for the partnership between Yili and Lincoln, and is very much in synchronisation with the objectives of the MoU,” says Lincoln University Business Development Manager Dr Samuel Yu.
“Yili and Lincoln share similar interests, with Yili investing in areas such as food safety and production, as well as on-farm issues like effluent management, improving pasture production and sustainability.”
Dr Yu says Dr Wescombe is a specialist in microbes and probiotics development, making him an excellent guest speaker at Lincoln, as he can offer students a global perspective from an international company.
“Lincoln-Yili are in a unique position, as some of the research discoveries that we are embarking on will have an ability to materialise at the nearby Yili-Oceania Dairy production facilities at Glenavy in South Canterbury,” says Dr Yu.
Yili also unveiled plans last year to invest around $400m in upgrading its Oceania Dairy plant at Glenavy, with extra capabilities in milk processing, powder manufacturing and packaging.
Since the MoU signing, senior management from both sides have been actively engaged in discussions, with Yili Innovation Centre Deputy Director Dr Xiaoping Huang and Oceania Dairy Quality and Compliance Manager Mr Shane Lodge paying a visit to Lincoln University in January.
Then in April, Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West and Lincoln International Student Recruitment Director of Greater China, Mr Jeff Sun, visited Yili’s Deputy President Mr LIU Chunhai and Innovation Centre Director Mr J.W. Yang in Hohhot City to follow up on discussions about effluent management, agribusiness, demonstration farms and other topics.