Auckland Unlimited has won two awards in the annual national economic development awards.

Auckland Unlimited secured awards in the ‘Inward Investment’ and ‘Innovation’ categories of the Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) Best Practice Awards, announced last night.  

The agency’s Invest Auckland project won ‘Inward Investment’; and the circular economy initiative XLabs won the ‘Innovation’ category.

Auckland Unlimited Chief Executive Nick Hill welcomed the recognition for the two initiatives, which tackle vital elements of Auckland’s economic recovery and future – investment in the region, and new ways of doing business to help tackle our environmental challenges.

“These initiatives have the potential to help transform Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and its regional economy, bringing new money, new jobs and innovative, environmentally regenerative ways of working and doing business here.

“The past year has been a stark illustration that we must all think differently, and work differently together – as organisations, as industries, as a city and region, and as a country.”

“Attracting high-value, high-quality and future-focused international investment and businesses to Auckland is a key need for the region, noted as a priority by private and public sectors speakers and panellists at our Auckland’s Future, Now economic event two weeks ago.

“It’s also a key part of what we do at Auckland Unlimited, and is critical for building the best future for our economy, our region and our people.”

Invest Auckland - Inward Investment award

Invest Auckland is a one-of-a-kind platform in New Zealand. It allows Auckland Unlimited’s investment team to present a coordinated regional voice about investable Auckland opportunities, proactively target international investors and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the international investor experience in the region.

The wider project includes a cross-council working group that develops investable opportunities across the council family; criteria to ensure the opportunities and targeted investors meet Auckland’s strategic objectives; and the ability to deliver digital services and information that, prior to COVID-19, international investors would come to Auckland in person for.

Nick Hill says the impetus for Invest Auckland came from Auckland Council’s 2017 Section 17A or ‘Value for Money Review’, which identified a need for a coordinated and clearly articulated regional investment story for global promotion.

“Invest Auckland is a big step up in how Auckland facilitates and secures inward investment, delivering a clearer, evidence-based investment story for Auckland, a regionwide approach which is more responsive to the needs of Auckland Council, investors and business attraction clients.”

Nick Hill says Invest Auckland is also proving a useful resource for international network partners such as NZTE, MFAT, Immigration NZ and KEA, as well as private sector trusted advisors in international markets, to get current information about the investment landscape in Auckland.

XLabs – Innovation award

XLabs was the result of a partnership between one of Auckland Unlimited’s legacy organisations, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and local company Circularity.

XLabs was prompted by work ATEED had done with the Sustainable Business Network to understand how Auckland could benefit from moving to a ‘'circular economy’, which designs out waste and pollution, keeps products and materials in use and regenerates natural systems.

The work found Auckland could be $6-8 billion better off, with much lower carbon emissions by 2030, by creating new economic opportunities for our businesses and our people to enable a more resilient future.  

Seventeen Auckland companies took part in the inaugural XLabs programme in 2020. The businesses brought real-life sustainability challenges to work on alongside 50 collaborators - scientists, technologists, and design experts.

“XLabs addressed the circular economy knowledge gap by working directly with businesses to unlock new circular business models, systems and products, relating directly to the challenges of waste, pollution and climate change,”says Circularity CE Louise Nash.

“XLabs is an innovative sprint-based programme that brings together cutting-edge science, technology and design to unlock new products, processes, and ideas that advance a circular economy. It builds business know-how and capability and shaped extraordinary ideas for a more regenerative and resilient future for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.”