Scion launched its plans to build an innovation hub in the centre of its Rotorua campus with the reveal of design concepts at a function last night.

A $2.5 million grant from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's regional infrastructure fund helped get the multi-million dollar project underway.

Scion chief executive officer Julian Elder said the innovation hub would become the focal point of Scion's campus and 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.

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"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," said Dr Elder.

Kevin Winters, Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor, for the Rotorua constituency, said the project had the potential to provide a significant boost to not only the Rotorua economy, but that of the wider region, bringing employment, economic benefits and innovation that would spill over to national benefits.

"We're very pleased to be able to contribute to getting the hub underway, through the Regional Infrastructure Fund, and look forward to seeing the development progress," said Mr Winters.

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

The innovation hub, to be accessed from Long Mile Rd, will be the new entry point to Scion.

The three-level building comprises an exhibition area, public cafe, main reception, meeting rooms, staff and tenant working spaces. It links to laboratories and testing facilities.

Construction is expected to start before the end of this year, and it is due to be completed by December 2019.

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The entire campus redevelopment programme started last year with a refit of Scion's office block. In addition to the innovation hub, the programme includes upgrades of wood processing workshops and laboratories plus pilot-plant facilities.

A landscape plan for the 112ha site is also included to create a more cohesive environment.

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