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Momentum grows for Motueka co-working facility

February 15th, 2018
[by David Armstrong]

An idea germinating for the past nine months has burst into life with the announcement on Wednesday of a working plan and funding for a new co-working and software training space in Motueka.

"The Hive" will provide an attractive, central High Street facility for business people wanting to use cutting-edge technology and to easily contact and network with others working in technology projects.

Details of The Hive were revealed by the guest speaker James Samuel to around 60 people who packed the Memorial Hall supper room for the Vision Motueka AGM.

As part of the presentation, Silicon Valley-based tech giant Cisco announced it will provide $30,000 for The Hive to train local students in computer networking, security and programming.

Cisco is a world leader in design and manufacture of hardware and software that make the Internet work, including networking and telecommunications equipment and router software.

The Motueka networking academy will be one of 9500 worldwide, and one of just two in the South Island.

The Cisco representative Raig Kleinhans, who lives near Ngatimoti and is part of the Hive team, said the skills they will learn in the 280-hour course will lead to industry certification and the likelihood of jobs starting at $60,000 - $80,000.

"There are big gaps in the market for the skills that will be taught in these courses," he said. Raig will donate his time to running the courses as a way of giving back to the community and helping make Motueka a centre for tech innovation.

The $30,000 grant from Cisco will go into paying a part-time Hive supervisor. Further income will come from other training courses provided by James and others, as well as from renting space in the building through co-working activities.

While the facilities will be available to all, a particular emphasis in the training programs will be on raising skill levels for Motueka's young people, which is an active youth-oriented project being run by Vision Motueka.

James said that the aim is to make The Hive financially self-sufficient within a year. It will most likely be run as a trust rather than a profit-making business.

James has working experience and contacts with similar successful ventures in New Zealand, including Nelson's Bridge Collective and the diverse range of co-working spaces in Christchurch and Wellington.

He also spoke of a co-working/training facility running in Westport called EPIC, which has created 24 new jobs in that town since starting two years ago.

The Hive team are looking at two buildings that are becoming available in High Street - the old BeeTees (now King's Girls) and the old Gothic restaurant. They hope the options will become clear within a few months.

Of the 55 people present at the end of the meeting, a show of hands indicated that around 25 would be very interested in using The Hive for their businesses.

"We are moving rapidly into a different era, where jobs that haven't even been invented yet will become commonplace in a decade," James said.

"Everything is becoming more technology based, including horticulture. So much is being done, and so many new jobs being created in activities using drones, robotics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and 3D printing.

"The top six public companies in the world are now all tech companies."

Motueka must be bold in tackling this challenge directly rather than hanging behind and having to catch up and seeing talent go elsewhere.

If the Hive initiative can get off the ground and find acceptance and support from other local innovative businesses, Motueka could become known as a centre for technology leadership and job generation.

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