Christchurch is to become home to one of six high-tech ''playpens'' for start-ups worldwide in Vodafone's new South Island headquarters.
The company announced today it would build its $50 million headquarters in the ''heart'' of the city's innovation precinct.
The four-level Tuam St building will bring together 350 Christchurch staff and is designed for growth up to 900 people.
The 8000 square metre paperless office will also house the Xone incubation hub in partnership with Callaghan Innovation.
Vodafone New Zealand chief executive Russell Stanners said the ''technology playpen'' would have facilities for between 10 to 20 technology start-ups.
''We can tap into what is undoubtedly a rich vein of technology-enabled entrepreneurs in the greater city of Christchurch... something we have always known is there,'' he said.
Vodafone has five other incubators worldwide, in Silicon Valley, Milan, London, Cairo and Dusseldorf.Stanners said it expected the building to be finished in early 2016 with construction by Calder Stewart starting in four to eight weeks.
The building will sport a large electronic television-style billboard, which a resource consent application said would screen live and recorded videos.
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee congratulated Stanners on securing capital from Vodafone's international headquarters for the project.
''International capital ... does not just descend on some sort of charitable basis. There has to be a business case made for it,'' he said.
Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said having one of six international hubs in Christchurch was a ''great endorsement'' of the precinct.
''The innovation precinct is an important element of not the just rebuilt of the central business district, but also ... the Christchurch economy,'' he said.
''Vodafone's decision to locate [there] is a clear indication and endorsement that the market has confidence in the vision for the precinct.''
The Government announced today that it would invest $28.6m over the next four years in three information and communications technology (ICT) graduate schools, including one in Christchurch's innovation precinct.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the cumulative effect of combining Vodafone's South Island headquarters, the Xone hub and the ICT school on the same premises would be immense as it would encourage the percolation of ideas.
Joyce said: ''Internationally it has 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.''
The four-level building in Tuam St will enable Vodafone to bring together its 350 Christchurch staff who currently working at several temporary sites into one location.
Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners said: "We have a proud history in Christchurch. This new building will facilitate the growth and development of our entire South Island business, as well as supporting the recovery and growth of the city."
The building will have more than 8300 square metres of open-plan floor space and will include a retail unit and cafe on the ground floor.
It will be built by developer Calder Stewart and leased under a long-term agreement with Vodafone.
Vodafone expects to be able to occupy the building in early 2016.
The Innovation Precinct is one of Christchurch's anchor projects purposely designed to stimulate growth in the CBD. The precinct will be a place for business and employment in high-value technology sectors.
- The Press