Growth and Innovation

City and regional connections that drive economic growth and innovation

Industry strategies

Wellington needs strong connections within the city as well as outside to support creative and knowledge-based innovative industries and ideas.  There is an economic advantage to individual firms in thinking about connections and collaboration, rather than adversarial competition between firms in the same industry.  For many, this is a new way of thinking about how they do business.

Industry sectors with high potential employment growth in Wellington over the next 30 years include high-tech innovative sectors with firms like Weta Digital, the broader business services sector, and the tertiary education sector.

Many of Wellington’s potential future growth industries currently lack scale, suffer from fragmentation and compete against each other, stopping most of them from gaining the capacity they need to become export-focused and sustainable. Industry or sector-level strategies can encourage collaboration, identify market opportunities and develop the scale needed for an industry to become export-focused.

We need to do more to recognise how value is gained from linking research, development, production and commercialisation.  This goes beyond simply encouraging co-location of similar businesses in an area.  Instead it requires an environment for innovation that rewards collaboration over competition.

Wellington’s economic development agency, Grow Wellington, and the Employers Central Chamber of Commerce (ECCC) will be important resources for facilitating opportunities that support collaboration.  We will also work with central government and support agencies to think about how regional development is resourced and supported strategically.

Tertiary education and research linked to regional development goals

Wellington has significant tertiary education and research resources.  Located in the city and region are two universities, two wananga, three institutes of technology and polytechnics, many private training establishments, national offices of over half of New Zealand’s industry training organisations and four of the eight national Crown research institutes (CRIs).  All are important contributors to Wellington’s education, skills and research infrastructure.

Typically tertiary education organisations (TEOs) consider their primary connections to be national (or, in the case of universities, even international) rather than regional.  There is significant unrealised potential to be gained from more structured connections between publicly-funded research and skill development and the regional development of Wellington.

New Zealand has a very low level of privately-funded research and development, necessitating a larger role for tertiary and research institutions to support economic, social and cultural innovation and development.  Forging these linkages at the regional level supports both access to (and retention of) a skilled workforce in the city, and the creation of more system-level opportunities for commercialising our research outputs – an area in which New Zealand currently performs poorly.


City and regional connections that drive innovation and growth need:

  • An environment that encourages collaboration over competition.
  • Industry strategies that identify the links between research, development, production, and commercialisation. 
  • Connections between Wellington’s tertiary education and research resources and regional development goals.