Christchurch’s new innovation centre welcomes Kiwi tech start-ups into the fold

Four young ICT businesses have been given a jump start to success via the GreenHouse Innovation Centre in Christchurch, a new joint venture between Canterbury Development Corporation and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, aimed at supporting small businesses.

Jamie Cairns of Canterbury Development Corporation says businesses were selected because they showed promise but also because they are the small sort of enterprises that will benefit most from the program.

“We don’t want companies that have been incorporated for longer than three years already, nor do we want companies that are already turning over more than $10K per month.”

“GreenHouse is here to accelerate those early stage initiatives through to commercial sustainability,” he says. 

The centre will provide not only desk space, but also value-add services, such as mentoring, milestone tracking and interns, to ensure new businesses “thrive when they leave the hub.”

GreenHouse’s ideology is that in the initial start-up phase a business is at its most unstable and needs as much support as it can get. GreenHouse aims to provide support by creating an environment where businesses can make mistakes without it being fatal to their success.

Each tenancy is a maximum of 18 months, and the tenants will have to meet a series of goals throughout their stay to ensure they are developing at the expected rate. These goals will be reviewed every six months, ensuring the tenants are making the most of their stay.

One of the first business located in the new centre is Debtor Daddy, a credit control system that uses automated reminders and debt collectors to get debtors to pay faster. One of the company's co-founders, Matt McFedries, says that the GreenHouse Innovation Centre will be good for the company because they will be surrounded by businesses with the same global ambitions.

“The networking is probably the biggest benefit,” he says. “It will enable us to share ideas with like-minded people.”

“Also the rent is very low which really helps from a cash flow point of view. The location is also really good; we are really close to EPIC, another innovation hub and some really good coffee places”.

Andy McLeod, director of health and safety software solution, Staff Buddy, is currently working on his business from home and says he is excited about the opportunity to use GreenHouse as a workspace.

Also welcomed to the new centre is Xeal Mobile, an online tool for building and managing mobile websites, and Maprogress, a real-time satellite tracking software for outdoor events.

The GreenHouse will also house anchor tenants Vodafone, Kathmandu and Wynyard Group, as well as Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the ICT graduate school.

Image: Canterbury development corporation Chair of the board Dr Garth Carnaby and Hon. Steven Joyce unveil the plaque.