Grow North research project

This research is assessing the opportunities and requirements for growing an Auckland North Innovation District.

The aim of the research report is to lay out the ‘challenge’ of developing an innovation district in Auckland North, generally assessing the resources and capabilities we currently have; the strategies that will need to be adopted and how to enact these strategies; and the risks to bear in mind. This initiative is consistent with the Auckland Innovation Plan.


Pile of literature to review

Phase 1 - Literature and existing developments review

This phase was an intensive period of review of existing literature on popular global efforts to develop innovation districts, corridors, and clusters.

This includes the research on regional innovation initiatives such as ‘smart cities’ and ‘creative cities’, as well as regarding other efforts to develop ‘local’ versions of Silicon Valley across the globe. The team will also draw from and reflect on past economic development proposals constructed in relation to Auckland North.

Group of people in discussion

Phase 2 - Stakeholder engagement

The team are now conducting interviews, focus groups, and surveys with stakeholders identified through Phase One.

The project team will conduct approximately 40-50 total interviews and collect upwards of 200 survey responses with a range of stakeholders linked to the Auckland North innovation district.

Stakeholders, through the working groups, include representatives from ICT, health industry, transport, housing, the Maori community, education, economic and community development and local boards.

Phase 3 - Analysis and report

The project team will assess data gathered against extant analyses of ‘best practices’ for

innovation district development.

Given the elements that typically comprise an innovation district or 'Silicon Valley model', how does Auckland North compare/contrast? How does this align with or deviate from previous recommendations for economic development in AN, and what does this tell us about why or how previous recommendations were adopted?

The report from Phase 3 will be presented at the Grow North Symposium on 30 November


Why an innovation district?

Innovation districts have been defined by the Brookings Institution as ‘geographic areas where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators,’ and which offer valuable economic and lifestyle benefits associated with regional clusters and ‘the spatial economy’.

It has been proven that there is a positive effect of cross-clustering –regions that contain diverse and dynamic strengths are more apt to boast higher employment growth as well as higher growth of wages, number of establishments, and patenting. Dynamic regional clusters are also more likely to generate new industry involvement for that region.

Histories and geographies unique to regions do shape local employment trends, lifestyle preferences, and support for change so the research project is examining the specifics of place and local culture so we can be relevant in our strategy around fostering innovation in Auckland North.

This research aligns with the goal for Auckland to become a significant centre of innovation in the Asia-Pacific region, as laid out by the Auckland Council and ATEED.

Where is Auckland North?

For the purposes of this research, Auckland North refers to the five regions comprising Kaipatiki, Devonport-Takapuna, Hibiscus and Bays, Upper harbour, and Rodney, as seen on the map below.

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