Biotechnology Overview

Scientist holding and examining samples with plantsNew Zealand’s bioeconomy is built on a century of world class biological research. We have a long tradition of applying research to pastoral and arable farming, horticulture, forestry and human healthcare.

New Zealand is now reaping the benefits of improvements in primary production, and from new high-value products. There are also a growing number of companies whose core business is biotechnology. These are high technology companies developing a range of novel products and services for global markets.

NZ Strengths
New Zealand’s comparative advantages are aligned with our historical biological research base. We are very strong in large animal, fruit, forage, and forestry biotechnology, as well as niche areas of human healthcare.

Strong research tradition
The country’s scientists have an impressive rate of publication and citation in prestigious academic journals. NZBIO believes such world class science is a vital pre-requisite to developing a robust bioscience industry.

Smart research & commercialisation
New Zealand’s bioeconomy has a culture that is globally focussed, highly collaborative, agile and resourceful.

Modern bioscience approaches
As modern biotechnology has evolved, New Zealand has been quick to apply molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, metabolics, and high throughput technologies to our established and emerging biological industries.

Animal health status
New Zealand is free from a range of diseases that are endemic in the rest of the world. This is due to our geographic isolation, strict border controls and farming practices. In particular, prion-based disease such as BSE are not present in New Zealand. The country has a category 1 rating, with no A list diseases.

Unique germplasm
New Zealand has unique flora and fauna, extensive databases and collections of animals and plants, and comprehensive datasets.

Breeding & selection programmes
Animal and plant breeding have always been critically important to New Zealand’s agricultural sector. Sophisticated genomic approaches are rapidly accelerating developments in this area.

NZ Capabilities

Drug Discovery

  • Neurological therapeutics with neuroprotective properties for acute conditions as well as chronic disease like multiple sclerosis, parkinsons disease and peripherial neuropathies
  • Asthma vaccines and models
  • Diabetes therapeutics
  • Cancer therapetics and diagnostics
  • Bio-prospecting of New Zealand’s flora and fauna for activity in major therapeutic classes

Large Animals

  • Genomic applications to improve production characteristics in the dairy and meat industries, develop novel products and improve disease resistance and resilience
  • Technology for reproductive modulation
  • Enabling technology for biopharmaceutical production
  • Longitudinal and genomic models


  • Improving the nutritional quality of pastoral plants for livestock
  • Modifying plant growth and physiology through plant signaling genes for the control of growth, flowering, branching, development, yield, quality and stress control
  • Developing new product opportunities by controlling fruit colour, flavour and fragrance phenotypes
  • Bioactives and novel food ingredients
  • Biomaterials and biopolymers for packaging, seed coatings, biocontrol, food processing and probiotics

Innovative Foods
Products that target consumer demands for health and wellbeing, including ingredients, nutraceuticals and bioactives.


  • Sensors for mastitis, pregnancy and odour detection
  • Animal health products for facial eczema preventation, internal parasite control and improved fertility.

Technologies that minimize the environmental impact of urban and intensively farmed sites, and reduce the reproductive activity of exotic pests.
New Zealand is home to manufacturing facilities for pharmaceutics, animal health products, animal vaccines and serum production. Fermentation and separation technologies are used in the production of biopharmaceuticals and in the dairy industry.