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More good stirring of the innovation system in Wellington, with a fair potential for much of central New Zealand to benefit as a result.

Weltec’s Smart Product Centre has co-located, and as well as its Petone base camp, has set up alongside Industrial Research’s Gracefield campus.

One of the Smart Product Centre’s main foci is helping manufacturing companies develop prototypes, and small pilot runs.

Next year it is also about to produce its first batch of B. Engineering Technology graduates – of which part of the course is to work on specific problems/challenges for manufacturers and technology companies.

Setting these students and part of the centr’s engineering facilities alongside the applied engineering skills of IRL (as well as its chemistry, physics and mathematics brains) is a great synergistic move.

IRL has a pretty impressive workshops as well, so the increased cross-fertilisation and intersection of clever thinking for those companies looking to move up the value chain must be enhanced.

There are also 20 or so clever independent companies located in and around the IRL campus, an example being Robinson Seismic, who make earthquake proofing solutions for buildings.

Weltec Smart Product Centre director Paul Mather has described the concentration of companies and skills as an ‘asset hub’ – a very neat description of these focused efforts.

Weltec was also one of MSI’s accredited providers of high value manufacturing research under the Technology Transfer Voucher scheme introduced late last year.

Mather says the TTVs have had the added benefit of raising Weltec’s Smart Product Centre profile – and brought to light a number of innovative Hutt Valley companies he didn’t know existed.

Some of the challenges put up by companies wanting prototypes and solutions are very tricky. Being alongside IRL can only benefit all of us.

The cozying up of the CRI and polytech is innovation at its most apparent, and part of what the government must be glad to see happening.

Roll on the development of some good intellectual property as a result.