Over the past few weeks, the ‘Tauranga Model’ has been generating interest from outside the region. Representatives from agencies in Taranaki and Northland have both visited the city to get a better understanding of just how the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Bay of Plenty is developing.

Callaghan Innovation’s selection of WNT Ventures as one of the three new tech-focused incubators in July raised the region’s national profile as having a deeply connected network of innovation hubs. The rapid growth of Enterprise Angels with chapters now in Rotorua, Taupo and Hamilton, as well as its home base of Tauranga, has also created interest. It is now New Zealand’s largest angel investor network.

There is something unique that all these developments have in common. It is what makes the ‘Tauranga Model’ so special. Every one of these initiatives is entrepreneur led. Period. End of story.

Basestation – A standout example of the ‘Tauranga Model’

Basestation – A standout example of the ‘Tauranga Model’

Maybe it’s the city’s business community’s approach to economic development that has helped drive the model. The region’s economic development agency, Priority One, was first created by the Tauranga business community. Today, it is unique in New Zealand. Its Board remains business sector based. Compare this with the more traditional public sector (local council) model. No prizes for guessing which one connects most closely with the business community it serves.

Of all the recent entrepreneur initiatives that have taken place, the one outstanding one in my view is the development of the Basestation communication and technology hub, currently under construction on Durham Street. Yesterday, I walked over to the site and met up with Steve Vincent. Steve is a director of Technologywise and one of the co-founders of VentureCentre. VentureCentre itself is an online portal which runs events and programs for the local startup community. It was set up by a group of local entrepreneurs for the benefit of the wider ecosystem. Basestation is a direct product of this initiative.

When it opens in four weeks’ time, it will become home to a number of local ICT businesses. Supporting other local initiatives such as Ignition, Basestation will house a co-working space to provide early stage startups with access to workspace, shared facilities and an immediate network of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Basestation has received zip funding from the council and zip funding from any other public sector agency. It is being 100% funded by committed local entrepreneurs, for other entrepreneurs. It has been designed to build a long term, sustainable innovation hub in the heart of the city. It epitomises everything that makes the ‘Tauranga Model’ so unique in New Zealand.

On 7th November, Basestation will open its doors to mentors, facilitators and participants at Startup Weekend Tauranga 2014. As I walked around the site today, Steve talked me through the building programme. The picture he painted is very different from the pictures I took today.

Home to Startup Weekend Tauranga 2014

Home to Startup Weekend Tauranga 2014

Basestation will be fully operational and ready to host the biggest Startup Weekend, Tauranga has experienced to-date. If you have the opportunity to attend, it is worth remembering where this facility has come from; a group of totally engaged entrepreneurs who have put their own money into a project designed to promote and support entrepreneurs and startups across the Bay.

Entrepreneur-led. It's the Tauranga Model

Entrepreneur-led. It’s the Tauranga Model

There can be no better place to host a Startup Weekend. It epitomises everything a startup stands for.  It’s what makes the ‘Tauranga Model’ so special.

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