The first tenant for Auckland's new 'innovation centre' in Wynyard Quarter, Nextspace, moved in last night. Speaking at the opening event last night which attracted around 150 people, the prime minister's chief science advisor, Peter Gluckman, said that the innovation centre was a good starting point, but support from the business community and government is needed to fully realise the precinct's potential.
"A physical location alone is not enough. There needs to be support from businesses, universities, and councils. And this innovation centre has that," says Gluckman
Gluckman says many of the ideas for the new centre are based on ideas from the region of Waterloo in Canada.
Waterloo is home to Research in Motion, which manufactures BlackBerry phones. It is a part of Canada's Technology Triangle, which Gluckman says is the largest producers of startup technology companies in North America, outside of Silicon Valley.
"Every day a new startup joins the network in Waterloo. We need to encourage that here," says Gluckman.
Clyde Rogers, business head of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), says the innovation centre will bring valuable jobs to Auckland.
"This is the kind of work we want to bring to Auckland. Hi-tech, high value, and high paying," says Rogers.
A report from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers last year said the precinct would bring in $4.29 billion to the Auckland region.
Nextspace was founded in 2007 with funding from the New Zealand government, and 3D technology company Right Hemisphere.
In the last two years, Nextspace has restructured to focus on its Visual City program, which produces visualisations of construction and engineering plans, maps and environmental data in an interactive 3D model.
Visual City is being used by agencies such as Auckland Council to present its development plans to the public, and New Zealand Transport Agency to help improve road safety.