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$75m spend to fix buildings in Gracefield’s Innovation Quarter

BusinessDesk report by Rebecca Howard
A $75 million cash injection into Callaghan Innovation’s Gracefield Innovation Quarter in the Hutt Valley will focus on making sure the aging facilities – which have asbestos, leaking roofs, cladding issues and failing sewer pipes – are safe and fit for purpose.

“Investment in the site will mean that New Zealand’s top scientists, engineers and researchers will have the modern facilities needed to help transform our economy to become more productive, sustainable and focused on growing R&D,” said Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

Funds will be used to refurbish existing buildings, including seismic strengthening for six buildings, urgent underground services improvements and urgent roof and weather tightness remediation.

They will also be used for a new building to meet the special requirements of the Measurement Standards Laboratory.

The funding was initially announced as part of Budget 2019.

“Prolonged under-investment in the site over previous decades means the initial focus will be on remediation including seismic improvements, asbestos removal, roof and weather tightness.” Callaghan Innovation said on its website. The 10-hectare site was originally established in the 1940s as the site for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

According to a May 2019 business case from Callaghan Innovation, every building on the Gracefield site has asbestos and “many require remediation works to manage or remove specific hazards.” It also noted that GlycoSyn stores chemicals in a temporary not fit-for-purpose area and while a future inwards goods store is planned “a temporary inwards goods area is urgently required for capacity in the interim.”

Callaghan Innovation-owned GlycoSyn is a carbohydrate and complex chemistry expert and leader in the development and manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients for pre-clinical and clinical trials.

The business case also noted that some roof replacement is required as well as cladding remediation and said sanitation is at risk due to failing sewer pipes and continued potable water leaks, among other problems.

“Immediate action is required to ensure facilities are safe and fit for purpose for Callaghan Innovation staff and tenants, and to meet legislative and regulatory obligations,” it said in a business case.

Gracefield Innovation Quarter is home to over 200 scientists, researchers and technicians, along with tenant businesses. It features state-of-the-art specialist workshops, pilot plants, labs and equipment, and world-class measurement facilities.

After depreciation, the carrying value of the agency’s buildings was $17.9 million and plant assets $18.4 million, as at June 30, 2018, according to Callaghan Innovation’s annual report. The land was valued at $3 million.

The government funding means three new buildings can be built, as well as an extension to one building and extensive refurbishments to other existing buildings, said Woods in a statement. According to Woods, last year around 270 companies benefited from the services provided by the quarter and with “this investment we hope to see that number grow, bringing us closer to achieving our coalition goal of increasing New Zealand’s R&D spend to 2 percent of GDP by 2027.”

Current R&D spending is $3.9 billion, or 1.37 percent of GDP.

News from Hutt City Council
The Hutt City Council has welcomed the government’s $75M commitment to Callaghan Innovation. “The Crown’s investment supports the further development of the Gracefield Innovation Quarter right here in the heart of Technology Valley,” says Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace.

“This is fantastic news for the business community who will benefit through more assistance for research and development, accelerating economic growth and supporting the development of start-up companies and innovative technologies.

It is also heartening to know that the scientific staff working at the Gracefield Innovation Quarter will now have a better quality working environment equal to their international reputation.

“Lower Hutt is a hub of science, technology and innovation. The Gracefield Innovation Quarter is an incredible asset not only for the Wellington region but for the whole country. This investment strengthens the future of science research and gives a very positive message to businesses that they will be supported to expand.

“Companies will benefit from the scientific and commercial skills of Callaghan Innovation to commercialise products and ideas which has a very positive impact on New Zealand’s economy,” says Mayor Wallace.

“Callaghan Innovation is pleased to be working with the Technology Valley Forum to connect innovators across the Hutt Valley and beyond. There are significant opportunities for the Hutt Valley region to collaborate, increase expenditure on research and development, and contribute to improved economic growth for the region. The investment in Gracefield Innovation Quarter means we are well placed to assist businesses to grow their investment in research and development, and create a vibrant, connected and supportive innovation community,” says Vic Crone, Chief Executive Callaghan Innovation.

“This investment finally secures all the prerequisites for a successful technology-based local ecosystem – fundamental scientific research, business and academia. This complete ecosystem makes Technology Valley an even more attractive place to build science-based businesses,” says Chris Milne, Chair Technology Valley Forum.

1 comment:

  1. Manny, 12. June 2019, 16:05

    It’s called over-capitalization – $75million on $18million buildings they probably could rebuild for that figure! I’d like the govt to rethink what research and development projects it funds.