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Waikato targets biotech

By Duncan Bridgeman

Friday 21st March 2003

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Waikato is looking to emulate the success of the Dunedin biotechnology industry with the development of a new $180 million Innovation Park near Hamilton.

After more than a decade of debate, initial funding is complete and Prime Minister Helen Clark will turn the first sod of construction next Thursday.

The park plans to bring high-tech businesses together on 20ha of Tainui land between Waikato University and the Ruakura Crown Research Institute.

Innovation Waikato chief executive John Birch updated members of Waikato's new ag-biotech cluster on Monday night, emphasising the importance of boosting the region's growth in technology business.

The region already had an impressive base of world-leading agritech businesses and with many of the country's leading scientists in the area, the opportunities were too great to ignore, he said.

The park has secured $7 million of seed funding with $2 million each from Industry New Zealand, Hamilton City Council and Wel Energy Trust.

A lease agreement with Tainui was finalised last year and Mr Birch said the park had secured 80% of the required tenants. The park will be split into 20 sections, with a core facility comprising of 3500sq m of tenantable space and 500sq m for the establishment of a technology commercialisation facility and incubator.

Tainui will lease about a quarter of the overall land space for farming. The core facility has been designed to expand to tenants requirements and will be coloured black, with patches of green and bright orange.

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