Auckland’s journey to become an innovation hub of the Asia-Pacific region and a high-tech economy took a big step forward today with the opening of GridAKL – Auckland Council’s innovation precinct at Wynyard Quarter.
GridAKL will make a major contribution to Council’s vision to develop Auckland businesses which are ‘born global’, are faster-growing, employ more Aucklanders in high-paid jobs, and generate export dollars for the region’s economy, GridAKL’s first stage is the refurbished Polperro building overlooking the Viaduct Basin, part of a $20 million multi-year Council investment in an innovation precinct for ICT and digital media companies, and a central hub for Auckland’s growing innovation corridor.
Nearly 10 high-tech start-up companies have already moved, or a close to moving, into GridAKL’s co-working environment which will be supported by business incubation services and activation.
Council’s economic growth agency Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) is overseeing the creation of the precinct in conjunction with the area’s landowner, Council organisation Waterfront Auckland, and its development partner.
The BizDojo and The Icehouse joined forces to be the hub’s independent operator appointed by ATEED following a public request-for-proposal process. They will create a culture and activities within the hub which will allow tenants to reach their true business potential.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown says GridAKL is a fantastic milestone for the region: “The innovative and entrepreneurial vibe at GridAKL is palpable, as some of our world-class ICT and digital media creative talents spark off each other.
“I am excited and proud to see Council’s innovation precinct vision becoming reality amid Wynyard Central, which is gaining momentum and taking shape as the most exciting multi-use urban development in the city.”
GridAKL’s innovation hub will be in the Polperro building and the nearby character Lysaght building, which is expected to open in early 2015. The heart of the precinct will be actively managed and curated by the operator.
There will be flexible and shared working space, business incubation, mentoring and/or accelerator programmes, independent digital media and ICT companies, shared meeting facilities, a café/drop-in area, and space for networking and industry showcasing activities.
ATEED chief executive Brett O’Riley says: "GridAKL will be a catalyst for Auckland developing more innovation-based entrepreneurs who can spark off each other in a world-class environment.
ATEED studied models in California’s Silicon Valley and worked with MIT in Boston through its Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program to shape the planned precinct. The Government was involved in the initial feasibility study, and Brett O’Riley expects it will have a future role in the development.
“Grid AKL is based on global best practise for creating an environment to stimulate innovation and collaboration. It will be part of the wider innovation ecosystem, and be part of ATEED’s work with tertiary and research institutes to capitalise on the Government’s new acceleration and incubation programmes,” says Brett O’Riley.
“GridAKL will become a showcase of Auckland’s innovation and attract international investment and high-tech companies. It will also be a natural epicenter to link Auckland’s innovation and growth corridor – including Albany, Takapuna and southern Auckland, where there are opportunities in Manukau and around Auckland Airport which will support Council’s Southern Initiative.”
Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell says the precinct is an important part of the $850 million integrated Wynyard Central development, which will see the delivery over the next five years of a diverse range of commercial and residential buildings, outstanding public spaces and a five-star hotel.
“As the new builds become available from late 2015, Wynyard Central promises to be a world-class showcase of multi-use urban revitalisation and design – an exciting place to live, work and visit,” says John Dalzell.
“The innovation precinct is a great fit for our ambitious design and sustainability goals for the entire development and I’m sure the energy and vitality to come out of GridAKL will rub off on all commercial tenants in Wynyard Central, to help create a really strong business community in the area.”