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Vodafone anchor tenant for $50m building in new Christchurch innovation precinct

Vodafone says it will establish a new $50 million South Island headquarters in the heart of Christchurch’s new Innovation Precinct.

The phone company will be the first anchor tenant in the precinct, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said this morning.

The purpose-built, four-level Vodafone facility at 213-221 Tuam St will allow Vodafone to bring together its 350 Christchurch staff – currently working across several temporary sites – into one central location, with significant capacity for future expansion and growth, the company says.

The building will have 8300sq m of open plan floor space and will include a retail unit and cafe on the ground floor. It is being built by developer Calder Stewart, and leased under an exclusive long-term agreement with Vodafone.

The architech is Jasmax.

Vodafone expects to be able to occupy the building in early 2016.

Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners says Vodafone’s Christchurch development underlines the company’s commitment to the city – and the South Island.

 “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,” he said.

Vodafone Christchurch HQ will feature a unique “innovation incubator” – the xone – developed and "sustained" jointly with Crown agency Callaghan Innovation and the city of Christchurch.

Asked about Callaghan's level of funding, Callaghan CFO Richard Perry told NBR, “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Vodafone to develop and deliver the xone ‘innovation incubator’ in their new state of the art building in the Christchurch Innovation Precinct.

“The details are of our support are being worked through.

"However, this initiative fits strongly with our mandate to accelerate commercialisation of innovation by companies in New Zealand and foster an innovation culture.”

Christchurch City contributed through the CCDU, which bought the land for the precinct.

“The role of the CCDU is to purchase land and develop it into an exciting and attractive public space in the Innovation Precinct, and encourage private sector investors to come on board,” Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said today.

The xone will provide technical expertise, logistical support and facilities to help promising New Zealand technology companies gain a fast-track into proof-of-concept trials across Vodafone’s network. 

“This exciting new centre will deliver Vodafone’s global experience to help grow New Zealand’s entrepreneurial businesses and weightless exports,” Mr Stanners says. “The xone will allow between 10 and 20 start-ups to cluster together in a purpose-built, collaborative environment, and gain access to Vodafone’s global innovation community."

Comments and questions

Great seeing Vodafone invest further in Christchurch.

Also exciting that there will be a south island incubator environment for local entrepreneurs outside of Wellington and Auckland.

Well done.

Good to see Vodafone finally being open to work with the entreprenuerial sector. Will be interested to see how much funding Callaghan Innovation is investing in this. The performance of the incubators in NZ has not been that impressive to date - not sure this will be any different to the others.

Real innovation won't be happening inside a giant telco - so let's call this a Tech Precinct or Customer Service Precinct.
The actual innovation precinct is EPIC (SLI Systems, RedSeed and a host of others), but bewilderingly the proposed extension to another building has been shelved.

Lance not surprising the government and its agencies believe commercial innovation occurs within Crown Research Organisation, universities and incubators. They also believe that NZVIF and its angel groups are skilled investors. When the facts are totally different. When the government wakes up to the waste of money being invested in these areas then NZ might see innovation unleashed.