Council approves land for Christchurch IT hub—updated

An IT centre has been given the go-ahead after the Christchurch city council approved a rent-free deal on one of its sites.

An IT centre has been given the go-ahead after the Christchurch city council approved a rent-free deal on one of its sites.

Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus (EPIC), a group of 20 SMEs, approached the council during the Share an Idea phase of the development of the draft central city plan to help with the relocation of their businesses.

Yesterday the council granted EPIC the temporary use of the former Para Rubber site on the corner of Tuam Street and Manchester Street. The deal will give its IT hub a rent-free location for three years, according to Radio New Zealand.

EPIC says the hub would ultimately be home to more than 440 employees.

Co-leader Colin Anderson, director of IT consultancy Effectus, told The Press it would add vibrancy to the CBD.

He hoped to have businesses working from the site by Christmas.

Two Google executives have volunteered to provide free advice for the hub's development: Christopher Coleman, director of global real estate and responsible for building many Google campuses across the globe, and Craig Nevill-Manning, engineering director in New York.

Christchurch deputy mayor Ngaire Button says technology is seen as one of the key areas to develop new business opportunities and promote strong economic growth in the central city.

“Establishing the innovation campus will enable the 30 businesses to continue operating, attract skilled workers and protect growth through the development of collaborative business opportunities.”

The use of the Para Rubber site would be considered temporary until longer-term facilities were developed by EPIC, she says.

She says the fact Coleman and Nevill-Manning have put their hands up to assist is promising.

“This advice will be invaluable based on their experience of designing large collaborative spaces for software engineers, salespeople and creative staff on a tight budget.”

SLI Systems chief executive Shaun Ryan, who plans to move into the hub, says it is a unique opportunity to create a collaborative work environment.

"It will create long term employment and help bring some energy back to the heart of the city. It’s not something we could do alone.”

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