Scion innovation centre funding signed off
Tuesday, 8 April 2014 9:00 a.m.
Scion and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have signed an agreement to build an innovation centre at Scion’s Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park. The centre’s purpose is to foster innovation in forestry and wood processing industries.
The Rotorua-based Crown research institute successfully bid for funding through the Regional Council’s Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF), a contestable fund set up to support economic development in the Bay of Plenty. Scion was allocated up to $2.5m from RIF’s inaugural funding round towards the construction of a proposed innovation hub for forestry and wood processing-related businesses.
Scion’s project was one of four to receive funding in the 2013 RIF round.
Since announcing the funding Scion and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have been working on contractual requirements for the project. Last night, representatives from Scion and the Regional Council signed a Funding Agreement to formalise the project.
“This project has the potential to provide a significant boost to not only the Rotorua economy, but that of the wider region, bringing employment, economic benefits and innovation,” Regional Council Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod says.
“We’re very pleased to be able to contribute to getting it underway, through the Regional Infrastructure Fund, and look forward to seeing the development progress.”
“The funding is essentially seed funding which will help get this project off the ground sooner rather than later, for the economic benefit of the region,” she says.
Scion CEO Warren Parker says the funding will enable Scion to get going with securing tenants and, all going well, to have construction underway by late this year or early 2015. It is anticipated the building will be completed by December 2015.
“We’re already short-listing concept designs for the building, which we see as being an inspirational showcase of new wood products and construction methods. We’re also working with our networks to secure tenants and are confident that the centre will attract people and high-tech companies who share our vision for prosperity from trees through innovative thinking.”
The Scion project is part of plans to expand Scion’s Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park, adjacent to its research campus on the fringe of Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest and already home to about 30 forestry-related businesses.
The new building will be a centre for both start-up businesses and small-to-large operations with the aim of fostering collaboration and innovation across the forest and wood processing value chain and with Scion.
“The innovation centre is part of wider efforts to establish Rotorua as a forestry and wood processing industry centre of excellence,” Dr Parker says.
“There is plenty of space in the innovation park for more like-minded operations to join those already located there. Bringing industry influencers and innovators together has the potential to lead to thousands of jobs as new ideas and technologies start to roll out of the centre.
“The centre will help the industry meet its goal to increase New Zealand forestry related export earnings from around $5 billion to $12 billion by 2022. To achieve this, New Zealand needs to process logs into higher value products before sending them offshore. The Bay of Plenty is home to 35 per cent of New Zealand’s planted tree stock and the volume of wood harvested is expected to increase by another 5 million cubic metres by 2020. Processing these logs here in the Bay presents a tremendous and tangible opportunity to generate new jobs and exports earnings for our local region.”
Enquiries from firms outside the Bay of Plenty region are welcome.
Scion Innovation Centre
- A shared space for growing businesses and small development teams situated within Scion’s Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park.
- Will seek to attract high-tech businesses targeting new markets for forest and wool-derived products and services.
- It will be a business and innovation cluster similar to, for example, the Ag-biotech hub at Waikato Innovation Park.
- Analysis by Grant Thornton in 2013 found value-added processing of logs could help increase regionally generated exports by $500m - $1b and create 4000 jobs. The Scion Innovation Centre will play a key role in contributing to that.
- The Regional Infrastructure Fund is providing up to $2.5 million towards construction and fit-out of the planned 1000 m2 building.
What is the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF)?
- A contestable fund to support and promote economic development in the Bay of Plenty. The fund is a commitment made in the Regional Council’s Ten-year Plan 2012-22.
- Provides additional capital funding to assist in the development of major infrastructure projects that support sustainable regional economic development.
- The aim is to help accelerate infrastructure projects, improve outcomes and quality of projects and/or increase the scope of projects.• Applications for funding for the inaugural RIF round closed in February 2013 and successful applicants were announced last August.
- A total of up to $40.5 million in funding was awarded for four projects: An Innovation Centre at Scion’s Innovation Park in Rotorua (up to $2.5m); A shared tertiary campus in Tauranga (up to $15m); A Harbour Marine Precinct for Tauranga City (up to $5m); The Opotiki Harbour Transformation (up to $18m).
Caption: Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod, Western Bay of Plenty constiuency Councillor Jane Nees, Tauranga constiuency councillor John Cronin, Scion Deputy Chair Judith Stanway and CEO Warren Parker at the signing of funding for the innovation centre. (jpg, 4MB)
Caption: Bay of Plenty Regional Council Chief Executive Chief Executive Mary-Anne Macleod and Scion Deputy Chair Judith Stanway at the signing of the funding agreement for the innovation centre. (jpg, 3.3MB)