Innovation Park considers expansion

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 10:29 11/12/2012

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New Zealand's only science park is looking to expand in the new year with plans for a new building.

Waikato Innovation Park is the nationwide hub for ag-biotech business growth. 

The 8 year old park, on nearly 17 hectares of land beside the Ruakura Research Centre, is home to 52 businesses and more than 350 staff. The site currently has three buildings.

They are the original Innovation Park structure where most of businesses are located ,  the Tetra Pak building which is largely occupied by the processing and packaging company and an $11 million spray dryer facility which was completed earlier this year. The occupancy rate has been an average 98 per cent over the last few years.  

 But the park's business incubation manager Peter Maxwell isn't content and would like to grow the park further over the next year. 

He is looking for opportunities to expand and is hoping a new building will be under construction before 2013 is through. 

''The master plan was for about 17 to 19 buildings eventually. We're a long way from that.'' 

But before any building plans can be approved Maxwell said an anchor tenant is needed and the hunt for one is on.Another big push for next year will be cementing relationships with business parks internationally, Maxwell said. 

The Waikato park already has an established connection with an Edinburgh business park in Scotland and last month Maxwell went to China and signed a memorandum of understanding with a business park in the Shandong Province city of Jinan. Jinan's business park is extending its capacity by 250,000 square metres. 

Maxwell is considering formal understandings with the United Kingdom Science Park Association and the British Foreign Commonwealth Office to promote the Waikato Innovation Park and it's capabilities abroad. 

''What I'd like to do is use the Chinese connection.

The Chinese are interested in the UK and Europe because of the size of the market and we could be a big stepping stone,'' he said. 

''We have the free trade agreement between China and New Zealand and we also have a special relationship with the United Kingdom so we're trying to work out ways to use that to everybody's benefit.''

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- Waikato

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