Chair and Chief Executive Overview

Building blocks for a circular bioeconomy

Scion serves New Zealand’s entire forestry value chain from forest genetics to manufactured products derived from trees. Growing healthy, resilient forests for multiple purposes is at the heart of our aspirations for a low-carbon, biobased future New Zealand.

Underpinning our strategy is our commitment to the forestry sector, and we will continue to support the industry to address current and new challenges with impactful research, technology and knowledge.

We have been doing this for years, quietly and determinedly, and now this thinking is becoming visible in many sectors and talked about by many players who value sustainability enough to want to act now.

New Zealand, like other countries, must adapt to a world living with the effects of climate change and other major environmental challenges, such as water quality and plastics pollution. Scion is helping to address these eye-watering challenges, and our strategy refresh has led us to a new goal in which we see ourselves playing a major role in transitioning New Zealand to a circular bioeconomy. 

We firmly believe this goal is achievable. New Zealand has natural competitive advantages in this approach because we grow trees and other biomass well, we have unproductive land and we have scope for new regional manufacturing infrastructure. This attractive context gives Scion the ingredients to create solutions that are technologically innovative, environmentally sustainable and designed for a circular bioeconomy. All New Zealanders ultimately will benefit when our goal is realised.

Underpinning our strategy is our commitment to the forestry sector, and we will continue to support the industry to address current and new challenges with impactful research, technology and knowledge.

Scion-developed technologies and bioproducts created from renewable forests are increasingly seen as part of the solution for consumers and regulatory bodies looking beyond price and quality to seeking better environmental standards from products

For example, our new biobased treatment to modify radiata pine gives the timber a durability that makes it suitable for outdoor uses. The eco-friendly treatment uses renewable materials from processing agricultural wastes instead of heavy metal-based alternatives. We are now working with partners to commercialise this technology and realise the potential for new regional jobs, increased export value and a wide range of indirect benefits to wood product manufacturers.

Our work on bioplastics and our collaborative relationship with the plastics industry brought about the announcement of a Scion-led ‘Roadmap for New Zealand’s New Plastics Economy’, which will guide New Zealand’s entire plastics sector to move to a new plastics economy based on circular principles.

Further demonstrating our commitment to a biobased future, we have invested in developing our Rotorua campus as a place where we, with industry and partners, can showcase scientific research and high-tech innovations that enable the circular bioeconomy.

Underway already, our ‘innovation hub’ itself includes innovative new wood products and has a timber-engineering wow factor. It will be the new entry point to Scion from mid-2020 and will include a public café and exhibition area, while also housing staff and innovation partners. This initiative is supported by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council as providing important regional economic development, and we have strong interest from businesses to be co-located in this collaborative hub with 37 tenants on site already.

With our new General Manager Maori Forestry Futures on board, we are continuing to build relationships with our Maori partners, working toward co-innovation, shared aspirations and growing the Maori economy. One exemplar this year was our collaboration with the kauri dieback mana whenua roopu, which enabled the biggest collection of kauri seed to date, providing an invaluable resource for tangata whenua and for future kauri dieback research programmes.

Our sound fiscal management during 2019 meant we were able to maintain profits by early identification of revenue shortfalls and implementation of cost management initiatives despite weak revenue growth. Revenue was down on budget by 5.5 per cent to $55.9 million (budget $59.0 million), but our net profit after tax was on target at $1.7 million (budget $1.7 million).

Our strategy “Right tree, right place, right purpose” has set our path, our campus developments are creating the scene and our talented staff are energising the discussions. To our hard-working staff, we say a sincere thank you for your commitment to Scion, your colleagues and collaborators. And to our customers and partners, we thank you all for your support and contribution to Scion throughout the year.

We feel privileged to lead Scion in the movement towards new biobased economic opportunities for our country and to boldly take and help shape opportunities for forestry and biobased products to benefit all New Zealanders.

Dr Helen Anderson

Dr Julian Elder
Chief Executive