The commercial operators of Auckland’s new technology innovation hub are excited to officially open the first stage of GridAKL, the innovation precinct at the Wynyard Quarter.
The BizDojo and The Icehouse were appointed to operate the hub of the Auckland Council investment precinct by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) last year.
A new spatial geography of innovation is emerging globally, notes BizDojo cofounder Jonah Merchant, and with the rise of open innovation and networked idea generation, collaboration is fundamentally changing how businesses and people interact, how ideas flow, and how places are physically designed.
The innovation precinct concept embraces the redesign of buildings and office spaces in support of collaboration and open innovation, and it provides a physical and social platform for aggregating and better connecting talented, driven entrepreneurs and businesses both across Auckland and further afield to the rest of New Zealand and offshore.
BizDojo partner Phil Williams says the company’s long-standing experience in successfully creating and curating innovative campus environments and co-working spaces for private and government clients, will bring significant benefits to the precinct.
“We're excited to use this experience to turn Auckland's innovation precinct into a catalyst for growth and innovation for the city,” says Phil Williams.
Ken Erskine, The Icehouse’s Startup & ICE Angels Director, says the overall goal is to lift the performance of New Zealand high-tech start-ups and SMEs.
“GridAKL is a fantastic space to help us do this. Access to expertise, networks and funding are key to the success of new tech companies,” says Ken Erskine.
The first stage of the precinct is located in the refurbished Polperro building overlooking the Viaduct Basin. Carefully designed by the hub’s lead operator, BizDojo, the Polperro building has been transformed from a staid 1980s building into a vibrant and collaborative environment for ambitious digital and tech-focused companies.
The facility functions as an ‘all in one’, collaborative innovation hub with flexible work spaces aimed to connect players from across Auckland’s innovation ecosystem.
Nick Shewring, BizDojo partner, says GridAKL’s physical environment has been curated to house a great mix of technology, design and high-growth innovative businesses.
Stage one of GridAKL will be home to 4-8 person start-ups. Following the refurbishment of the character Lysaght building, due for completion in early 2015, GridAKL will house companies with up to 200 staff and international operations.
“They'll be connected to each other and to New Zealand’s tech community by a programme of events, meetups, hackathons, partnerships and activation. It will create a high tech heart for New Zealand,” says Nick Shewring.
In addition to providing a fully managed co-working space for companies, the venue will be a home for a range of business incubation and activation programmes.
A key hub will feature a purpose-built event space which can be used by GridAKL’s residents or the wider community to stage a breadth of events.
A tech café on the ground floor of the Polperro building will be open to the public in June, and provide a drop-in collaboration space for the technology start-up community.
“This is an exciting milestone for the ICT and digital media companies in Auckland, and we are delighted to be involved,” says Nick Shewring.