Vodafone pours $50m into central Christchurch HQ

By Derek Cheng

Photo / Brett Phibbs
Photo / Brett Phibbs

Vodafone is pouring $50 million into a major new headquarters in the heart of Christchurch's new Innovation Precinct to help support start-ups and fuel business development which has been crippled since the earthquakes.

The four-storey building on Tuam Street will include a hub called the Xone to support entrepreneurial projects and allow them to trial their ideas across Vodafone's network.

"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," Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners said.

The hub, developed with Callaghan Innovation and the city of Christchurch, will feature technical expertise and logistical support, as well as Vodafone SuperNet facilities.

It will be the sixth Vodafone Xone in the world, following sites in Silicon Valley, London, Cairo, Dusseldorf and Milan.

Vodafone's new building will feature more than 8300 sq m of open plan floor space, and the company hopes to move in by early 2016. It will bring together 350 Christchurch staff who are currently based at a number of temporary sites.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Vodafone building would anchor the Innovation Precinct, which will bring together businesses, innovators, and an ICT graduate school.

"What is even more encouraging is that there are several other prospective tenants waiting in the wings to secure a place within this precinct," Mr Brownlee said.

The Government also announced it would support the development of an additional innovation hub with low-rental prices to accommodate start-ups within the precinct.

The facility will accommodate Callaghan Innovation's and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's business-facing services as well as one of the three new ICT Graduate Schools.

Labour's Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokeswoman Ruth Dyson commended Vodafone on its move.

"But, sadly, many others have given up in the face of bureaucracy from Cera [Canterbury EarthQuake Recovery Authority] or delays from insurance companies.

"In the suburbs things are getting worse, not better. People are now entering their fourth winter with wrecked homes and no idea when damage will be repaired."

The Christchurch Innovation Precinct covers an area of approximately 3.6ha in the southeast corner of the Urban Frame and will be located within three city blocks bounded by Lichfield, Manchester, St Asaph, High, Tuam and Madras Streets.

- APNZ

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