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NASA, which pioneered America’s space programme, is to set up shop in the Kapiti Coast town of Otaki, lured to a new technology park targeting green and renewable energy sources, according to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s (NZTE) website.

The Kapiti Clean Technology Incubation Park is a joint venture between private companies, researchers, Kapiti Coast District Council and Wellington Regional Council’s development arm Grow Wellington.

NZTE contributed financially to the feasibility study and business model for the park and will also contribute financially towards some of the park’s initial operating costs.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans to join the park in 2012, having met the promoters at the Japan Renewable Energy conference in June.

NASA will become the first overseas tenant of the technology park which opened recently, joining New Zealand tech companies Esime Group, Anzode, IRL and SpectioNZ, as well as the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority, Massey and Victoria Universities, and Weltec among others.

“Our vision has been global from the get-go,” said Steven Finlay, the centres of excellence manager at Grow Wellington.

The Kapiti council has promoted the idea that Otaki can contribute to the national electricity grid and helped get the idea off the ground, he said.

Already, the park is in talks with a potential JV partner to provide clean energy to parts of rural India, Finlay said. NASA’s involvement reflects the growing global interest in clean, green energy technologies as well as the fast-track processes designed to quickly innovate and commercialise new knowledge into sellable products, he said.

The clean technologies will initially concentrate on four areas: smart and off-grid distributed generation; clean transport technologies, and marine technologies.

Finlay said that New Zealand’s development of innovative off-grid energy solutions, its large number of strong independent-minded rural towns and communities and the need to rapidly develop climate change solutions, makes the clean technology park a good first choice for Grow Wellington.

“The solutions are at hand, and we’re looking to create global technology partnerships,” he said. “We’re putting new models, new economics, new technologies and new partnerships in place. The politicians of the world may be the last ones to see it.”


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