Musseling into IT

Musseling into computing and new software has transformed research work in the local $116 million-a-year mussel export industry.

Musseling into computing and new software has transformed research work in the local $116 million-a-year mussel export industry.

Mussel Industry Council executive officer Paul Lupi says the industry needed a 21st century strategy, which has resulted in a Web-based portfolio for research.

"Information about existing and future research projects goes into it. The industry feeds in the benefits it wants, and the science providers respond on the database with the research in their area of expertise," he says.

The project, supported by Technology New Zealand, was needed because huge amounts of paper from committees and meetings of growers, scientists and regulators had become too cumbersome.

Phil Driver of Technology Link helped industry groups to further develop their technology strategy and to put it in a form that could be entered into the computer system. The result is an electronic library, available to everyone in the mussel industry and those doing research on its behalf.

The software at the heart of the project is called Sextant, written by Driver and Dave Lane of Egressive.

Driver says Sextant co-ordinates information about a sector's science and technology investments, using the categories of science activities, science outputs, applications of the science, and the resulting benefits.

"In other words, if industry defines one benefit to be 'healthy mussels', then scientists and others can enter what has to be done, and by whom, to deliver that benefit," Driver says.

He says Sextant applies a new philosophy to research strategy development.

"It's the first time a research strategy has been developed for a whole sector - for all stakeholders - and not just for industry alone. As a result, all stakeholders can contribute to the sector's technology investment strategy."

Lupi says millions of dollars worth of mussel research is happening at universities and Crown Research Institutes and says the Irish and Australian mussel industries are now interested in their New Zealand counterparts' move to new technology to help research.

Technology New Zealand is part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

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