Scion innovation centre designers selected

For immediate release
21 July 2014

Scion has chosen the architects for an innovation centre to be at its Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park. The successful proposal was submitted by RTA Studio and Irving Smith Jack Architects who paired up to put together a concept for the building.

The centre’s purpose is to foster innovation in forestry and wood processing industries, and it was the conceptual design innovation that gave RTA Studio and Irving Smith Jack Architects the edge over the other three short-listed submissions.

As yet unnamed, the innovation centre has come about following the Rotorua-based Crown research institute’s successful bid for funding through the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Regional Infrastructure Fund. In April Scion was allocated up to $2.5m from the fund towards the construction of a proposed innovation centre for forestry and wood processing-related businesses.

Scion Chief Financial Officer Rob Trass says the innovation centre is part of wider efforts to establish Rotorua as a forestry and wood processing industry centre of excellence.

“The architects we have selected demonstrated the type of innovation we are seeking for a building that will be an inspirational showcase of new wood products and building techniques. Novel thinking will be employed in the design concept, taking the best properties of wood to create an affordable, building of high structural integrity,” he says.

Scion intends that the innovation centre building will be a prototype demonstrating a different way to use wood and wood products capitalising on precision manufacturing, and resulting in construction methods that are lighter and faster than the conventional.

“This project has the potential to provide a significant boost to not only the Rotorua economy, but that of the wider region, bringing employment, economic benefits and innovation,” Regional Councillor Lyall Thurston says.

“We fully support Scion in deciding to go with this novel design approach, and look forward to seeing the development progress,” Cr Thurston says.

Scion’s Rob Trass says April 2015 is the target date for construction to start, with completion by December 2015.

“Now that we have a design team in place we are approaching potential tenants, both start-up businesses and small-to-large operations, who will foster collaboration and innovation across the forest and wood processing value chain and with Scion. This is an ideal time to be involved in the project because the input of future tenants will be valued as the concept is firmed up and detailed design work is undertaken,” he says.

The Scion project is part of plans to expand Scion’s Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park, adjacent to its research campus on the fringe of Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest and already home to 27 forestry-related businesses.

Enquiries from firms outside the Bay of Plenty region are welcome.

Scion Innovation Centre

  • A shared space for growing businesses and small development teams situated within Scion’s Te Papa Tipu Innovation Park.
  • Will seek to attract high-tech businesses targeting new markets for forest and wood-derived products and services.
  • It will be a business and innovation cluster similar to, for example, the Ag-biotech hub at Waikato Innovation Park.
  • Analysis by Grant Thornton in 2013 found value-added processing of logs could help increase regionally generated exports by $500m - $1b and create 4000 jobs. The Scion Innovation Centre will play a key role in contributing to that.
  • The Regional Infrastructure Fund is providing up to $2.5 million towards construction and fit-out of the building.

What is the Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF)?

  • A contestable fund to support and promote economic development in the Bay of Plenty. The fund is a commitment made in the Regional Council’s Ten-year Plan 2012-22.
  • Provides additional capital funding to assist in the development of major infrastructure projects that support sustainable regional economic development.
  • The aim is to help accelerate infrastructure projects, improve outcomes and quality of projects and/or increase the scope of projects.
  • A total of up to $40.5 million in funding was awarded for four projects:
    - An Innovation Centre at Scion’s Innovation Park in Rotorua (up to $2.5m);
    - A shared tertiary campus in Tauranga (up to $15m);
    - A Harbour Marine Precinct for Tauranga City (up to $5m);
    - The Opotiki Harbour Transformation (up to $18m).


Cr Lyall Thurston and Rob Trass
Regional Councillor Lyall Thurston (left) and Rob Trass on the site where the new innovation centre will be built.