Prime Minister John Key to open new $3m tech hub in Wellington
Wellington's $3 million business Tech Hub is set to become a "home" for business in the "smart capital".
Wellington City Council and BizDojo's hub on Tory St was established to connect hi-tech, rapid-growth ventures, investors, social enterprises, international visitors, tertiary institutions, government and established businesses working on new ideas.
Prime Minister John Key and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce will officially launch the hub's Collider project at an event on Wednesday.
Collider aims to connect the innovative ideas and individuals of the Wellington technology ecosystem and create opportunities for business growth.
The programme will be the first of council's '8 big Ideas' to boost economic growth in the capital.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the council was committed to job growth in the "smart capital" — a goal set out in council's 2011 Economic Development Strategy.
The hub would be a place for Wellington's innovative businesses could call home.
It would be a neutral space where everyone from technologists to coders, designers and social entrepreneurs, could come together to collaborate, she said.
"Wellington's innovative businesses will be offered the best possible chance of success."
Councillor Jo Coughlan, chairwoman of the economic growth and arts committee said Wellington was known for being the capital of tech and it had a lot of potential to attract more talent.
The hub would be a driver for business growth in the city, she said.
"It's about creating a place for some of the world's best and brightest leaders and innovative business people to call home in the heart of Wellington."
BizDojo founder Nick Shewring said a city full of high tech talent would help grow Wellington's reputation as the smart capital of New Zealand.
Wellington Chamber of Commerce believes the Tech Hub will open up opportunities for Wellington region.
Chamber chief executive John Milford said members were pleased to see progress on council's "big idea" and Wellington had to harness potential economic growth and capitalise on the industry's prospects.
"The work programme that sits along-side this hub, outlined in the project's business case, is vital to the success of the entire project. We're encouraged by the sharp focus on the capital raising and investment attraction programme and the International market access programme. It's got to be about supporting and enabling our local talent for growth."
Wellington's credentials as New Zealand's Smart Capital were well established, with its ICT sector accounting for 7.3 per cent of the region's GDP and the largest ICT employment concentration in New Zealand, with 4 per cent of Wellington jobs being in the information, media and communications sector, he said.
Council's business case for the project considered a 2014 report from BERL, which noted annual average GDP growth for the region could increase from 2.51 per cent (the base line scenario) to 2.93 per cent between 2013 and 2041.
The potential incremental GDP impact for the region could be $28.7 billion by 2041 or $1b per annum,, including growth in annual average employment from 0.93 per cent to 2.93 per cent, with flow-on benefits for sectors such as education, finance, and property, he said.
Council will contribute up to $3.2m towards the tech hub over three years for its non-commercial elements.
The hub is expected to contribute to the council's Economic Development Strategy target of creating 10,000 new jobs over five years by 2016, and is a forerunner to the development of a tech precinct.