Govt: New Vodafone HQ to anchor Christchurch Innovation Precinct

The government today released the spatial framework for the Christchurch Innovation Precinct and announced that Vodafone’s new South Island headquarters will anchor the precinct.

The Innovation Precinct will bring together businesses, innovators, and an ICT graduate school, alongside residential, retail, hospitality and professional service providers to create a vibrant and exciting new part of Christchurch.

Announced by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce, anchor tenant Vodafone will set up an expanded main South Island office in the Innovation Precinct, as well as one of its international Xone incubators.

As reported by Techday, the Xone incubator offers advice, support and assistance to technology start-ups focused on mobile platforms, consumer electronics, smart charging and automotive technologies. The Christchurch Xone incubator will be only the sixth such incubator that Vodafone has set up across the world.

Brownlee says securing Vodafone was testament to the groundwork that MBIE and the Christchurch Central Development Unit had been doing over the past year.

“The role of the CCDU is to purchase land and develop it into an exciting and attractive public space in the Innovation Precinct, and encourage private sector investors to come on board,” he says.

“I am pleased to see the work that the CCDU team and MBIE did together coming to fruition as I know they were instrumental in accelerating and ultimately securing this relationship between Vodafone and the developer.

“What is even more encouraging is that there are several other prospective tenants waiting in the wings to secure a place within this Precinct, and this will be hugely beneficial to the inner city.”

Brownlee says the Innovation Precinct is an important juncture between the business, education and research-themed South Frame area, and the East Frame, which will be an innovative residential development in its own right.

“When the CCDU team developed the CBD Blueprint, it was mindful of creating a city that was future-proofed,” he adds.

“We know that people want to live, work and play in the city, and when key organisations like Vodafone have the vision to take that challenge it’s clearly a significant step forward in Christchurch’s recovery.”

The government also announced it will support the development of an additional innovation hub to accommodate start-ups within the Precinct.

The purpose-built facility will accommodate Callaghan Innovation’s and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s business-facing services as well as one of the three new ICT Graduate Schools.

“Internationally, it’s been shown that innovation precincts work best when they bring together a good mix of larger established players, innovative start-ups, and research and teaching facilities,” Joyce adds.

“However start-ups often can’t afford the high rental cost of new offices.

“Offering a lower rent option for them in this knowledge-rich environment among other innovators will help them grow and expand, and provide an ideal mix of small and large firms within the Precinct.”

Joyce says internationally, innovation precincts attract talented people, encourage interaction and creativity, and are proven to help foster innovation.

“This in turn builds business growth, jobs and economic success,” he adds.

“The government is committed to helping grow innovation precincts in different parts of New Zealand alongside the private sector and local stakeholders.

“New areas like the Christchurch Innovation Precinct and the Wynyard Quarter in Auckland are seeing strong interest from potential tenants who want to be involved in a specific geographical location that promotes connections and collaborative work.”

The Christchurch Innovation Precinct covers an area of approximately 3.6 hectares in the south-east corner of the Urban Frame and will be located within three city blocks bounded by Lichfield, Manchester, St Asaph, High, Tuam and Madras Streets.

The spatial framework and strategy report are available at www.mbie.govt.nz/what-we-do/canterbury-recovery/chip.

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