I’ve been doing some research on collaboration spaces in Auckland.

The first place I visited was Generator in the downtown CBD.

This workspace is all about business with companies and high flyers mixing together to make use of high class facilities. Boardrooms, presentation rooms, office spaces, hot desks and a cafe bar lounge all combine to give a distinctive corporate club feel with a definite nod to Dragons Den. Casual plans at Generator start from $150 a month for access only. A working desk will set you back $400 for 60 hours a month, whilst full residency is $1,000 a month and locks you into a long term.

Moving uptown, to the more eclectic K Road district, I also went to see BizDojo. The vibe here is very lean start up and feels almost Bladerunner-esque amidst the moody Ironbank building. Bizdojo is about 25% cheaper than Generator with a range of service plans that begin at $65 a week for 5 days a month and peak at $186 a week for full time residency. Facilities here cater to creative design and web development. A neighboring space is currently being renovated into a prototyping fitout almost like a mini Tech Shop

Across town, in the boutique fashion district of Ponsonby you can find The Kitchen. This space is driven by social innovation and sustainability and offers a good community for connecting with change makers. The place itself has a sunny disposition with natural ambience. The concept here was modeled from The Hub Association. Prices start at $200 a week for 5 days a month and run upto $620 a month for full time residency.

In Newton, at the city fringe, the Tangleball space is an option for those who enjoy being part of a hands-on activity led community groupy. This feels like a fusion of steampunk meetups and permaculture workshops. Membership is by donation with a guideline at $15 a week, which also includes voting rights.

If you’re looking for something more specific, customised to your style or even want to rent your own space then Sharedspace is a good online resource for finding a hot office. This is a website that features a host of companies willing to share office space and commercial facilities with flexible tenants. Search categories include everything from pop-up shops to film shoot locations with office space and creative studios inbetween.

On the business incubation front there are a few notable programs. Firstly on the North Shore is the Business Innovation Centre who run a series of acceleration programs from Massey University. This centre is also home to Auckland Startup weekend. Back in town is the Icehouse who provide shared facilities, business mentoring support and access to investment networks for a share of your business equity. For progressive thinking, BNZ also warrant a mention with their start up initiative which supports small business customers by offering free use of work space and meeting rooms at the BNZ Edge Centre.

Still on collaboration but less focused on space, it’s worth noting that Auckland has an active Meetup scene. Other online communities range from industry networks like Colab to creative communities like the big idea.

On the conference calendar, Auckland hosts a range of collaborative events in formats ranging from structured e.g. Nethui to informal, such as Gather and even private, for instance BaaCamp.

And finally the Government are getting in on collaborative facilitation as they seek to develop an innovation district at Wynyard Quarter. So far they’ve attracted Nextspace into the area and are expected to continue offering growth support for collaborative business innovations.

In summary, there’s a great landscape of collaborative options here in Auckland. Start up businesses are especially well catered to and sucessful business ventures are being built from these spaces each day. Many of them are going onto big things, disrupting industries and exporting to the world. The levels surpassed my expectation for a small city and is a really good story of organic and emerging growth.

Whilst vibrant, Auckland collaboration is compartmentalised in the big picture. The spirit of innovation represented by these places is scattered across the city which is a small market. So competition is not really that intense and ideas are being designed in isolated pockets. They’re not really challenged enough to meet their full potential, especially across sector. The focus is mostly about positioning small companies for market entry and fuelling them for financial return. This is a reality of our times but one can’t help wonder that if somehow the power of this collective imagination could be free from market distraction and focused instead on new purpose, then what could we really achieve?