The Waikato Innovation Park is proving to be a successful model, with start-up companies collaborating and progressing quickly, Waikato Innovation Park chief executive Stuart Gordon says.

In a 2018 survey, 38% of the Park’s companies had collaborated with other tenants at the park.

In the same survey, 62% of the companies located onsite at the Park reported growth, with a combined $563 million gross turnover – a 15% increase from 2017.

“Companies like these have seen the benefit of being in a hub with similar companies,” Stuart says.

“These companies are progressing faster than others around NZ.”

Of the 58 companies last year, 67% were exporting, with a focus on North America and Europe, 63% had taken on more staff, and 40% were looking to increase their tenancy space.

It’s all encouraging signs from companies that range from one-staff start-ups, through to well-established companies like CRV Ambreed.

Waikato Innovation Park continues to grow into a key hub for future technology in the dairy industry.

A lot of companies onsite have a hand in the dairy industry space, such as Farm Medix, Farmax, Razare, which designed Overseer, Quantec, which specialises in extracting high-value bioactives from natural ingredients, including milk, and farm consultants.

Multinational Tetra Pak moved its base from Auckland to the Park because the environment suited both staff and work as well as the opportunity to be close to other technology companies working in the food high tech space.

“We are trying to build a tech community, with a focus on Agritech and ICT,” Stuart says.

The Park is expanding its office space by a further 3000 square metres and a second spray dryer is due to be completed by April 2020.

The drier will be the fifth building on the site. The original vision and scope for the Park includes 20 buildings to be built on the 17 hectares, near Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton.

The Park is home to more than 60 tenants who have more than 1600 staff between them, including 562 working onsite and 1049 offsite.

The $50m industrial spray drier is being funded by Food Waikato, 10%, Nu-Mega Ingredients, 35%, Landcorp Farming Limited, 35% and Dairy Nutraceutical Limited, 20%.

Two thirds of the new office space is already taken, with one floor still available.

The continued expansion provides immense opportunity for the Waikato region and Hamilton in particular, which is home to NZ’s fastest growing tech sector.

A recent Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment report said Hamilton’s tech sector experienced 16.3% revenue growth last year. The nearest competitor was North Auckland and Northland, with combined growth of 16.1%. South Auckland experienced 9.4%.

“Our region has already produced globally successful companies working in high-tech space especially in Agritech,” Stuart says.