Chamber relocating to Mahitahi COLAB

Nelson Tasman ‘Mahitahi COLAB’ to become region’s innovation, economic and business hub

NMIT, Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) and the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce (NTCC) are establishing the region’s first COLAB – Mahitahi COLAB – designed to place local businesses and the tertiary sector at the heart of the innovation and business community.

The Mahitahi COLAB will provide a hub for new, existing and aspiring start-up businesses to easily connect, learn, develop and grow. The vision behind the venture is to provide the right environment for the three strategic partners to work together to influence the region’s economic development. It will provide a prime location for local and national business development, nurturing and developing talent, and creating opportunities.

The name Mahitahi COLAB was created by the NMIT, NRDA and NTCC teams and it delivers the message of coming or working together and of course it is this collaborative approach which is an important aspect of the business hub. The intention of the Mahitahi COLAB is to focus on collaboration and alignment between the “public good” and private innovation focused entities.

Located in shared space in the current NMIT campus on Nelson’s Hardy Street, the venture came about after the three partners identified several collaborative opportunities that if pursued, could assist in creating a more aligned innovation ecosystem in the Nelson region.

Each organisation will retain their own offices and will share common spaces and meeting rooms. The three partners anticipate having the shared space available later this year. The concept has been designed to complement existing private sector focused co-working spaces such as the Bridge St Collective.

“NRDA’s purpose is to partner with the public and private sectors in the attraction and retention of investment, visitors and talent who want to add value to the identity of our extraordinary region. One of our focus areas in delivering on our mission is inspiring and supporting existing and new businesses and business people to think differently, embrace new behaviours and collaborate. We should lead by example. It makes sense for us to be working more closely with our future learners and our business community to create a platform to contribute to this outcome” said John Palmer, NRDA Chairman.

Mahitahi COLAB provides multiple opportunities that will clearly benefit NMIT team members and learners and will contribute to the organisational vision of preparing graduates that are work and world ready. Learners will benefit from having direct access to real-life work experience, create new professional networks and will work with businesses on real life project briefs and identification of solutions for customers. Team members from NMIT will benefit from a range of professional development opportunities.

“Growing and developing the existing strong relationships between the partners will ensure that NMIT is better informed, connected and abreast of the employment, economic and commercial opportunities within our regions. Mahitahi COLAB will provide an exciting platform for NMIT to continue in its role as a pivotal partner in ensuring Nelson Tasman continues to thrive and develop,” said NMIT’s Council Chair, Daryl Wehner.

Chamber President Lees Seymour sees the co-location as a great opportunity for its members. “Working more closely together will allow us to connect our region’s businesses with economic opportunities, and with future capability. We know the skills shortage across the country is not going to get better any time soon, so we see the Mahitahi COLAB really helping employers tap into rising talent to help strengthen our region’s workforce. It also helps us to have a more joined-up approached when advocating to local and central government.”

NMIT will oversee the development of the Mahitahi COLAB premises on Hardy Street to minimise impact on NMIT staff and students and maximise opportunities for collaboration.

The cost of the fit-out will be shared by the core partners with the support of the Innovate Trust.

“Although each organisation will have their own designated space, the fit-out will be designed to break down barriers, ensure collaboration and creativity. There will also be some space available for partner members and others within the business community to use. This is all part of creating smarter and closer working relationships to help the region thrive and we anticipate that as the partnership develops, additional entities may choose to join us” said NMIT Chief Executive Liam Sloan.

Mayor Rachel Reese highlighted the benefits of a partnership approach such as this. “The partnership approach has been a really successful one for Council, and it is encouraging to see these three entities working together with the future of Nelson in mind. Together they will be able to position both business and education on a stronger platform to attract talent to our Smart Little city. I look forward to seeing the positive outcomes generated from this collaborative approach.”