4 Apr 2012

Business hub to encourage collaboration

7:05 am on 4 April 2012

Organisers of a new high-tech business hub in central Christchurch hope the project will help quake-affected technology firms get back on their feet and eventually expand further into export markets.

The $4 million enterprise precinct and innovation campus was officially launched by Science Minister Steven Joyce on Tuesday.

It is being built on the edge of the city's red zone and will house 17 high-tech firms that have been without homes since the February 2011 earthquake. The building is expected to be ready by August.

The Government is investing $1.8 million in the project over the next three years, in partnership with the Christchurch City Council and the private sector.

Project director Wil McLellan says the earthquake-strengthened campus has been specifically designed to keep costs down for tenants and also to help them work with each other.

He says the centre will include shared meeting rooms and other facilities to ensure business efficiencies but it is also being planned with business effectiveness in mind by allowing people to meet, to talk and to create new collaborative projects.

"We've tried to create a communal area in the centre that stimulates collaboration, so when you're getting a coffee you're bumping into the other people around the place."

Mr McLellan says 62 companies registered to be involved with EPIC, but it was not possible to include them all because of a lack of resources, time and space.

He says the 17 tenants who have been chosen all have strong growth potential, and represent a wide variety of high-tech companies.

Future tenant welcomes opportunity

One of EPIC's tenants will be RPM Retail, a software company which helps retailers make sense of their sales data.

Chief executive John Saywell says the firm has struggled through five offices over the past year and it is now looking forward to having a permanent home.

He says his company is also looking forward to working with others.

"A number of us already work together informally and this will formalise it."