Coworking is a style of work. It involves a shared working environment and independent, yet often complimentary, activities of the people working in it. Unlike in a typical office environment, co-workers are usually not employed or contracted by the same organisation or clients.

Typically coworking is an attractive option to work-at-home professionals, freelancers, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently and connect to their HQ via the internet. But it’s not just about businesses starting up and young people working in a ‘funky’ space.

Coworking is a social gathering of a group of people with diverse skills and resources who although working independently, share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happens from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.

It is not only about the physical space, but about establishing the co-working community, no matter the age or stage of the people working inside them. There are coworking spaces springing up all over Tauranga. Over the coming weeks Venture Centre will bring you the stories of some of the people who are working in them.

Look out for those stories, and in the interim take the opportunity to follow this link and come and find out about the spaces and people working together inside them for yourself.

Months of intense collaborative work by local entrepreneurial leaders has paid off as Minister Steven Joyce announced today the launch of New Zealand Central North Island first technology incubator.

After a rigorous assessment process and final recommendations from an independent panel, the Callaghan Innovation Board approved the application from WNT Ventures, a Tauranga, Bay of Plenty based organisation, formed specifically to respond to the opportunity.

WNT Ventures combines the talents, skills, knowledge and considerable resources of four of Tauranga’s most innovative organisations. Wharf 42, Newnham Park, Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA), and Quayside Holdings, the investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. They came together to put their combined capabilities – commercialising ICT, primary sector, manufacturing from metal powders – into one winning combination.

Minister Joyce said today the “collaboration bodes well for developing and growing new companies in our high tech sector, which is crucial to growing our economy. If we can work smarter across industries and improve our access to innovation we will have a competitive edge in this dynamic and challenging sector.”

The Incubator Support Programme from Callaghan Innovation will deliver support and funding to WNT Ventures’ technology-focused incubator, a privately owned business focusing on commercialising complex intellectual property.

WNT’s bid is a huge win for the three-quarters of million New Zealanders in the Central North Island and it will benefit New Zealand as a whole. The bid has received immense support from the entrepreneurial community, particularly in Tauranga, Hamilton and Waikato, and is key to the long-term vision of success co-created by the people who live and work here.

“We’ve got to drive and get young people in here, we’ve got to drive innovation in here, we’ve got to really drive this community to be successful,” said Steven Saunders, CEO of Newnham Park in recent interview about his own work as an Angel Investor. The WNT incubator is a very real demonstration of this drive which Peter Wren-Hilton of Wharf 42, and Ian McCrae of TiDA share.

With this degree of focused energy, investment of capital, hard-won knowledge gained through experience from mature entrepreneurs, and support from Callaghan Innovation, the opportunity to grow globally successful ventures from the enterprising community in the centre of New Zealand has today become considerably greater.

The following post from Sharronn Harris, of Matua, is taken from her presentation to the local Toastmasters group, of which she is a member. Toastmasters Tauranga meets on Thursday mornings at 7am at Alimento Cafe, 2nd Avenue, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

What’s happening in my city – Tauranga Moana?

Having had opportunity to spend some real time in Tauranga in the last few months, I’ve found I have fresh eyes on a well-known place.

There are many things happening in our city and I decided it’s time to take a look and attend, or explore, some of the events happening here.

This exploration has had mixed results. I have found myself entertained, amongst hundreds of bantering women, at a fashion fundraiser. At a business womens network event, I found some inspiration and connection with ladies evaluating (critiquing?) some well-respected visiting speakers.

I also attended a presentation at our Toi Toi Tauranga Art Gallery last month which challenged me to think about the future, my own, Tauranga’s and New Zealand’s.

"Get off the Grass - Kickstarting our Innovation Economy” was a free event which bought Professor Shaun Hendy to Tauranga to deliver, in person, the results of his research.

Over 100 people attended which seemed a reasonable crowd for a Friday evening and a serious, academic-sounding subject matter.

The fact the event promoted its aim as an opportunity to get an answer to the conundrum "Why do New Zealanders work harder, yet earn less”, was undoubtedly a draw card.

Professor Shaun Hendy has many titles after his name and in 2012 was the winner of the Prime Ministers Science Media Communication Prize. I’d previously not known of the existence of this prize, but will watch out for future winners.

The Professor certainly captured my attention early on in the evening with the statement: “New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world.”

It was a statement that bore repeating, and I will repeat it here too!  “NZ'ers work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world.”

The evenings presentation was based on the book Get Off The Grass, in which Hendy and Sir Paul Callaghan advocate building nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses to allow New Zealand to grow its economy more rapidly.

Both the book and the presentation were based on research which shows while New Zealand was comparable with Scandinavian countries (such as Denmark and Finland) in the 70’s it has lost parity over ensuing years. By continuing to foster priorities around primary industries – milk being our biggest earner our country is at risk from a critical issue – decades in which New Zealand has underinvested in both public and private sector technological research and innovation.

Take aways I noted down from the event were;

- We need to start capitalising on our smarts, not just our sheep
- We need to start harnessing communications technology, science and innovation
- We need to figure out how to export knowledge
- How connectivity and collaboration play a key role in determining rates of innovation and economic growth
- If New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly, it must overcome its small size and low population density to build a nationwide community of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses.

Most important to me were the messages aimed at catching New Zealand up with the countries that lure our young people away:

- we need to learn to operate and innovate as if we were a city of four million people
- we need to start taking technology and science seriously
- we need to start seeing ourselves as people of learning, not just of the land
- we need to put our money where our mouths are and learn to live off knowledge, rather than nature.

This lecture left me believing that New Zealand needs us all – everyone single one of us – to contribute if we are going to secure a prosperous future. Also, potentially, retirement will go out the window if we can find a way to collaborate in a way that uses the wisdom and knowledge of our ageing population too.

It seems we need to work with what we have, develop and then export the smarts – the very same stuff that this nation was founded on.

What made the evenings presentation more poignant was the launch of “Venture Centre”. A local initiative which has an aim of being a place online for “people finding people, and idea’s finding ideas”.

The team behind the initiative are committed to the kind of collaboration and investment that Professor Hendy suggests. They believe passionate, talented people who love what they do, create great families, jobs, companies and solutions to the world’s problems and can increase our city's, in fact our countries, prosperity, together.

Professor Hendy is an active participant in this critical national debate on how we are to become a more wealthy and healthy country and made a welcome and timely contribution on a local level here in Tauranga. The people who have launched Venture Centre are applying Hendy’s research  for our ongoing benefit.

My fresh eyes see many new opportunities opening up for young and old(er) here in Tauranga. It’s an exciting time to be exploring!

Co-working is a powerful movement.

It sits alongside many new trends.

The trend towards a collaborative economy where solutions are sourced from a collaboration of individuals with particular specialties, making their unique contribution to projects as and when they are required.

The trend towards working ‘in the cloud’, on information, applications and using systems and communication platforms accessed via the internet.

And the trend towards specialisation, where so called ’T’ shaped people work to develop a unique depth of expertise in one particular area or skills with a particular set of tools, and just enough ‘general knowledge’ to know where their specialty can add maximum value.

While this is not dissimilar to the way small businesses and sole-agents (who used to be called sole-traders) or freelancers have always operated, the addition of co-working and collaboration spaces to the working lives of these individuals and small groups has brought significant advantage.

They bring the dual benefits of network effects and synergy. They have the potential to make the people who chose to make co-working spaces the centre of their operations out perform those who chose to work from home, alone.

The network effect that one user of a product or service has on the value of that product to other people is obvious when talent co-locates. Synergy – the ability of a group of people to outperform even its best individual member – can make sense and a big difference in terms of outcomes, increasing the prosperity and impact of small businesses and sole agents on the customers they service.



Want to know more about coworking in Tauranga? Contact these local innovative inspirational places.

The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, in 2014 has well and truly engaged in a world-wide movement. Co-working and collaboration have been seen as buzz words, part of an American inspired ‘craze’, to some people until very recently. Today they are a very real and vital part of the working lives of a growing number of professionals in the Bay.

Shared work-spaces such as Ignition and Studio 64 in Tauranga, The Junction in Mount Manganui and Flair space in Rotorua bring sole-agents, freelancers and remote-workers together to share attractive, flexible city working environments, the company of other professionals – motivating each other and meeting new people in the process.

Collaboration spaces such as Newnham Park Tech Precinct, in Te Puna and Basestation Communication and Technology Space in Durham Street, Tauranga bring more established businesses and similar individuals together who share complimentary skills to intentionally share technology, resources, knowledge and projects to support new business creation.

If you are looking for a way to grow your income, your capabilities and your opportunities for success and haven’t already checked out co-working and collaboration in the Bay of Plenty then now is a good time to do so. But make sure you do it sooner rather than later. When the rest of the world realises that you can have all the benefits of co-working, collaboration and live in our beautiful Bay to boot, everyone will want to live, learn, work and succeed here.