Multinationals are being wooed to the proposed innovation hub in the reinvigorated Wynyard Quarter by ATEED in an effort to balance Kiwi startups in Auckland’s “engine room".
The recently released City Centre Masterplan and Waterfront Plan map out strategies and designs to kickstart Auckland’s CBD, with the innovation hub as a prime element in the waterfront’s latest renewal.
At the plan’s launch at The Cloud, Auckland’s deputy mayor Penny Hulse said the masterplan’s vision would make the CBD “a vibrant hub for Australasia and Asia".
“Cities with a vibrant heart inspire us and beacon us to come back. All other planning and business won’t encourage that.
“If the heart of a city isn’t in good health, then the limbs will not work well. A healthy heart brings investment and with it economic benefits,” she says.
ATEED business and sector development manager Clyde Rogers is currently in talks with several multinationals in hope of luring them to Wynyard’s sparkling shores.
“Some of these multinationals don’t yet have an R&D footprint in New Zealand and that is what this precinct will be about – creating fresh ideas and getting them to market.”
Rogers says the model is all about the balance between supporting Kiwi startups and innovators as well as convincing international firms to choose Auckland as their Asia-Pacific base.
He says research and anecdotal evidence has proven Wynyard Quarter's location and design as a key attractor for international players looking for a local base.
“They see it adding value to their business, their positioning in New Zealand and globally. Your environs become important. Who’s sitting next to you?
“These companies have told us that if the offer doesn’t suit us they’ll have to go somewhere else – offshore.”
Rogers said the project offered balance in an area suited to mixed model development – residential, commercial and retail – that also made the most of the central location.
He noted the innovation precinct in Wynyard Quarter was chosen so as not to cannibalise on business in nearby Queen St, which could have occurred if they had planned a retail or commercial hub.
“It’s not an open-ended precinct, it will be very focused on ICT and digital media and that was chosen after extensive domestic and international research.”
The hub will likely be anchored by an incubator, possibly The Icehouse, with surrounding space dedicated to startups (Nextspace has already moved to Wynyard), Rogers says.
“We’re already targeting some current New Zealand growth companies that are looking to expand. Some are based in Auckland and others further afield.”
He says the precinct will offer many benefits to both local startups and multinational innovators, with the precinct estimated to help the waterfront’s $4.92 billion contribution to Auckland’s GDP by 2040.
Rogers noted another selling point of the precinct was its proximity to two universities in the centre of Auckland, the University of Auckland and AUT University.
The innovation precinct at Wynyard Quarter is expected to begin its next stage of construction and refurbishment in 2013 and has secured $17 million worth of Auckland Council funding over 10 years.