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Waikato Innovation Park to Become Sole Focus

Media Release
11 November 2008

Waikato Innovation Park to Become the Sole Focus of Katolyst

The Waikato Innovation Park

Waikato economic development organisation, The Katolyst Group, announced today that it will re-focus the organisation to concentrate all its efforts on growing the Waikato Innovation Park.

The Katolyst Group, since its inception three years ago, has been the 100% shareholder of the Waikato Innovation Park and has contributed $900,000 to the Park’s operations during that time.

Katolyst Chairman, Jerry Rickman, says the move is all about reaping the greatest economic benefit for the people of the Waikato region.

“As the sole shareholder of the Innovation Park, Katolyst’s number one focus over the past three years has been to ensure it grows and develops to its maximum potential. In this time, the Park has gone through two stages of development and is now contributing nearly $5 million each year to the local economy.

By refocusing Katolyst to concentrate one hundred percent of its economic development efforts on the Park, we should be able to accelerate the Park’s development and increase its regional economic contribution significantly,” explains Mr Rickman.

In May 2008, the Waikato Innovation Park received a commitment from the Government that it will inject a further $4 million into the initiative. The Katolyst Group played a leading role in obtaining this funding commitment.

Mr Rickman said other Katolyst economic development initiatives would continue under the umbrella of various other organisations in the region.

“Other Katolyst projects – all of which have long range economic development objectives – have focused on strengthening the region’s core industries. Our major projects will be transferred to other organisations, including the Business Development Centre and Wintec, who have agreed to step up to the plate and ensure these positive initiatives reap further outcomes for local businesses and residents,” said Mr Rickman.

Mr Rickman commented that it is essential that the Park continues to develop a critical mass, as it will provide the resources and capabilities to attract larger companies to the Park, which in turn will help existing tenants leverage new business opportunities. “It is likely that other regions may also have Innovation Parks in the future, so it is important that we stay ahead of the game,” he said.

Katolyst does not currently have the capital or funding base to enable the Park to realise its full potential. The Board has therefore decided that the Hamilton City Council should underpin Katolyst and the Waikato Innovation Park as a key shareholder.

Hamilton Mayor Bob Simcock says the way in which the Katolyst role has evolved and the contribution it has made in the area of economic development has been very important for the city.

“It is clear that the Innovation Park is key to delivering economic benefits that might not otherwise happen. As a city council we are totally committed to seeing the success of the Park and are in discussions with other leading organisations in the region as to what role they might play in the future development of the Park,” says Mayor Simcock.

Mr Simcock says there are also other economic development projects and outcomes to focus on with a range of organisations as a result of the recently adopted Hamilton Economic Development Strategy.

“Given the changing focus of Katolyst, council will also work more closely with the Business Development Centre to expand its role in becoming a more comprehensive Economic Development Agency.

Speaking about the Council’s key role in Katolyst, Mr Rickman said: “It makes sense for Hamilton City Council to assume a lead role in Katolyst and the Park as it has the financial resources to strengthen the Park and its activities.

“Our Board and senior management have worked together with the Hamilton City Council to finalise the next stage of the Park’s development plan, which they will now work toward implementing.”

The evolution of Katolyst and its changing focus will see Board changes during the next couple of months to reflect this, with most of the existing staff to be assigned to new organisations in November.

The CEO of Katolyst, Graham Smith, who has played a significant role in the development of Katolyst and the Park and has been involved with the Board in developing the new Katolyst strategy, left on Monday 10 November to take up the role of Chief Executive of Itek Pty Ltd, a leading Australian technology commercialisation company. He will continue to live in New Zealand and commute on a weekly basis.


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