Techapuna? Auckland’s North Shore pipped to be next Silicon Valley

A growing number of business, academic, and Government leaders are backing the potential development of a Silicon Valley-esque innovation district on Auckland’s North Shore.

Massey University is currently researching the viability of the development, with the aim of recommending “next steps” to move the concept forward.

Lead researcher Rebecca Gill says the North Shore already has “many of the pre-requisites for an innovation district, including universities, good start-up companies and incubators, as well as supportive local government”.

Lead researcher Rebecca Gill. Source: Supplied

“One of the biggest advantages is the creation of new ideas that enhance society and make the world we live in a  better place, bring more ideas to the table, embrace diversity and embrace different lifestyles and different ways of living.

“The second biggest advantage is economic development. When we look at districts like this we often see that quality of life is enhanced, wages are enhanced, more people are becoming business owners and working for themselves and that has a lot of benefits for job creation and enhancing the local community.”

But Ms Gill warns there are negatives to the Silicon Valley model that should be heeded.

“A lot of times when people look at Silicon Valley they only look at and imagine the positive side of it.

“There’s definitely work-life stress. There are problems with inequality in Silicon Valley with certain firms being higher up on the hierarchy than other firms, and some people having better access to jobs than other people there.

“That’s why the project isn’t trying to exactly replicate Silicon Valley.”

The project is supported by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), on behalf of Auckland Council.

“Auckland’s economic development strategy outlines the goal of Auckland becoming an innovation hub of the Asia-Pacific region,” Brett O’Riley, ATEED chief executive, says.

Mr O’Riley says the research “will help inform the actions that we take at a regional level to deliver on this goal.”

Ms Gill says the research is still in its early stages and is currently focussing on “casting a wide net” and “gathering thoughts on what could be done in the area”.