Marlborough District Council is launching a technology and innovation hub for the region, which is set to open later this year.
Deputy Mayor David Croad says the hub aims to foster start-ups and boost the local agritech sector, as well as increase productivity and enhance local investment opportunities for entrepreneurs.
“Over the past two years, Dorien Vermaas and Mark Unwin from Council’s economic development team have researched technology and innovation models around New Zealand, from Northland to Invercargill,” said Cr Croad.
“These hubs serve as centres of innovation support to local industry in each region.”
Funding for the hub came from the Government’s Better Off Funding, with operational costs from Council’s existing economic development budget.
“In 2021, our Long-Term Plan identified tech and innovation as essential for economic development in the region. The following year, the Marlborough Economic Wellbeing Strategy outlined the region’s aspirations to take a leadership position for agritech in Australasia. The tech hub is an important component to assist turning these plans into action,” Cr Croad said.
“It’s fantastic we’ve now reached the implementation stage, after two years of hard work and planning by the economic development team.”
Council has launched a search for two contractors – one to complete a central Blenheim building fit-out and the other to run the hub.
“There is already strong interest from potential tenants and groups looking to hold events in the new space. A planning session is scheduled in May with prospective tenants and interested parties, to maximise the space and its potential,” said Economic Development Portfolio Manager, Mark Unwin.
“While the hub aims to return a profit in time, Council has managed future risk in its negotiations with several ‘exit’ options.
“The hub will bring startups and entrepreneurs into the centre of town, as well as connect Marlborough’s world-class research capability to commercialisation. Marlborough has one of the most active angel investment groups in the country but has one of the lowest number of start-ups.
“The region’s business ecosystem needs a place where innovative companies and corporates can meet with aspiring entrepreneurs, scientists, technologists, investors and business support providers,” he said.