Any perception of secrecy surrounding Crown research institute Scion is about to be cast aside with a multi-million dollar innovation hub planned to welcome in the world.

Scion chief financial officer Rob Trass said the innovation hub would be built at the centre of Rotorua's Scion campus and would become the centrepiece of the site.

"For 15 years we've operated behind a fence with many people under the impression it's a secretive place," Trass said.

"Our intent is to open it up to the public and showcase what we do. The innovation hub will be a place where people can touch and see what Scion is about and also see what is possible with wood."


He said people were recognising change was required to ensure the world continued to be fit for habitation and Scion was keen to show how trees would form part of the constructive change.

"We want to showcase how wood can be used to replace things used in the past," Trass said.

An artist's impression of the new development. Image / Supplied
An artist's impression of the new development. Image / Supplied

He said Scion had worked collaboratively with Rotorua Lakes and Bay of Plenty Regional councils to ensure the hub would be a place that would keep visitors in Rotorua for an extra day.

"We hope the hub will support everything else that is cool in Rotorua. That it will be another entertaining thing to do while people are visiting."

Scion chief executive Julian Elder said the innovation hub was part of a broader campus redevelopment that would foster innovation in the forestry, manufacturing, energy and sustainable land-use sectors.

"We, and our predecessors, have a proud history of innovation on this site but to take us into the future, our ageing site needs upgrading. This investment will give us flexible and fit-for-purpose facilities that reflect the world-class science we do here.

"We are creating a unique and dynamic environment that will promote innovation, commercialisation and collaboration by bringing Scion staff and industry closer together.

Engaging with the public is important too, and we will be opening up parts of the campus to our neighbours, local community and tourists," he said.


Scion worked closely with Architects RTA Studio and Irving Smith during the design phase to ensure the building would be a showcase for timber and sustainable building principles.

Costing an estimated $18 million, the redevelopment is the largest in many years and follows a laboratory upgrade in 2012.

Consent for part of the Scion build topped Rotorua Lakes Council's top value commercial consents list in November.

The consent was for work to the value of $7m.

Other significant commercial consents were given to Pukaki Land Development Company Limited ($1m) New Zealand Maori Arts Institute ($900,000) and Rainbow Springs Limited ($800,000). All were for work on existing buildings.

A total 21 commercial consents were issued in November with a total work value of $11m, compared to 20 commercial consents with a total work value of $3.7m for the same period last year.

Residential consents for November totalled 105 with a total value of $8.1m, compared to 89 consents with a value of $11.5m in November 2017.

There were 14 new dwelling consents worth $5.1m issued in November.