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Souls Machines’ lifelike VR creation Baby X to feature at GridAKL Innovation Day

04 Oct 2017

Aucklanders are set to be immersed in world-class technology at a free public ‘Innovation Day’ being held to celebrate the expansion of GridAKL, at the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct.

GridAKL’s footprint has expanded with two new buildings, Mason Brothers and the new purpose-built 12 Madden St which are now officially open.

The public will be able to visit 12 Madden Street, and the Lysaght Building – the first permanent location in GridAKL – on Friday, October 6 (from 8am-4pm) as part of Innovation Day, which will feature interactive demonstrations, activations and workshops.

GridAKL – facilitated by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) on behalf of Auckland Council – is designed to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in the Auckland region by supporting startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and corporates in a coworking environment.

High-tech Auckland business Soul Machines’ creation the Baby X will be among the keynote presentations at Innovation Day.

For the first time in New Zealand, GridAKL visitors will see a presentation on this emotionally intelligent, life-like avatar which uses facial expressions and words in real time, plus a range of their other digital humans and characters.

“Innovation Day is an opportunity for Aucklanders to see and celebrate how precincts such as GridAKL can promote innovation, entrepreneurship and technology in our city. It is also a great example of urban revitalisation,” says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

“Technology is driving growth across all sectors and is creating more money and jobs in Auckland.

“Investment in GridAKL is set to add a further $375million in gross domestic product (GDP) to our region’s economy by 2042 when the precinct is fully developed. It will also create an additional 270 jobs,” says Goff.

The GridAKL Innovation Day will show just how technology is shaping the future with expert panel discussions from the latest in virtual and augmented reality, to big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital innovation that is setting global benchmarks here in New Zealand.

Auckland is home to almost half of New Zealand’s technology sector with GDP of $7.8 billion and employing 47 thousand people.

The sector is growing rapidly, creating 9000 jobs in the last five years, and driving GDP growth by 26%.

Nick Hill, ATEED chief executive, praised the partnership between the public and private sectors which has made GridAKL a reality, and a catalyst for fuelling long-term economic growth.

“GridAKL creates physical opportunities for people to connect, share ideas and access talent and capital. Working to stimulate this environment puts Auckland on track to becoming a major innovation hub of the Asia Pacific, increasing our productivity and prosperity,” he says.

Coworking operator, Generator, which manages GridAKL’s 12 Madden St and Mason Brothers is excited about the scale and potential for innovative businesses.

"With more than 7,000 square metres of exciting new, purpose-built space to manage, Generator @ GridAKL is a working environment in which innovative businesses can grow and thrive,” says Ryan Wilson, Generator managing director.

“There is still a market perception that coworking is simply working from a shared space, but it is the level of amenity, and range of facilities that really benefit businesses in this environment and ultimately creates a vibrant home for Auckland's innovation ecosystem,” he says.

Throughout Innovation Day, the public can explore the hustle and bustle of the Startup Hub at the GridAKL Drop In Day over in the precinct’s John Lysaght building, home to more than 170 entrepreneurs with a focus on helping people take an idea into inception and start to grow their business.

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