Four weeks ago, I posted my last ‘Can Tauranga Replicate Boulder?’ article to this blog. In that article I said, ‘I believe that Tauranga is now at the point where it has reached a tipping point and both can and will build its own variation of a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s time to start talking about the Tauranga model’.

It is in that spirit that I can finally begin to talk about Wharf42‘s latest venture.

Today’s media announcement by the Hon Steven Joyce, New Zealand ICT Minister, that WNT Ventures has been selected as one of Callaghan Innovation‘s three new Technology-focused incubators is evidence of that venture and the city’s emerging model.

Building Collaboration & Partnerships in Tauranga and The Bay of Plenty

Building Collaboration & Partnerships Across Central North Island

For Wharf42, the immediate reaction to today’s news is one of excitement. Not one though based simply on our own part in the story. It is one that is based on the success of the ground-breaking collaboration we have  achieved with our partners, TiDA (Titanium Industry Development Association) and the Newnham Park Innovation hub. The emergence of a Technology-focused incubator that embraces ICT, high value manufacturing and the primary sector, is a first for New Zealand. It demonstrates, in a very real way, the extent of collaboration now taking place between the different innovation sectors in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. For Wharf42, this is the real story around today’s announcement.

I see our city as an incubator and aim to find, foster, and accelerate companies who share that vision and want to build in it. We are working to bring people together who are hungry to be a part of something bigger than just themselves and their companies – we are seeking to build an entrepreneural ecosystem that encourages experimentation, relationship-building, and collaboration.

At the opening of the new Heilala Vanilla processing plant in Tauranga three weeks ago, Norman Evans of Callaghan Innovation said, “We’ve got a very good perception of what’s happening in Tauranga and around the world. You guys are hitting the sweet spot. You’re really starting to build an innovation system that I think is going to take your economy to a new level.”

I personally think it is bigger than this. What is happening in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty today is going to impact not just on our economy, but the economy of the whole country. The ‘Tauranga model’, which has partnership and collaboration as a core part of its DNA, is a lesson for every city and region.

I, perhaps more than most, know the level of Tauranga, Bay of Plenty and wider central north island support WNT Ventures secured in its application to become one of the new breed of technology-focused incubators. It was widely recognised by many major regional agencies and investor networks that securing a technology-focused incubator would provide a significant new piece in the region’s growing entrepreneurial arsenal. I would like to acknowledge their support.

For Wharf42, the opportunity of working with TiDA and the Newnham Park Innovation hub, is an exciting one. The opportunity of analysing research and IP that potentially crosses the boundaries of ICT, High Value Manufacturing and Agri-tech is a distinctly new approach to traditional incubation in New Zealand. By leveraging the significant networks all these parties have, both onshore and offshore, we have begun what promises to be an exciting journey.

It is a journey that goes beyond Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. We have a strong national focus and we will be working with Universities and Crown Research Institutes across New Zealand.

To really accelerate the opportunity however, we need to think global. It is against this backdrop that last month, I posted an article to this blog about my 4 week visit to the US/UK.  Today’s announcement from Minister Joyce now provides some context. It is about connecting with and talking to our international partners to really build the blocks necessary to scale the businesses we intend to incubate.

Tonight, I will be celebrating Callaghan Innovation’s announcement in the UK. I am spending next week in Silicon Valley speaking to our network partners there. It is a win for everyone involved in the build of the new ‘Tauranga model’. It is a win we can and should all share.

You can follow Wharf42 on Twitter at @Wharf42HQ