Auckland to get digital funding boost

The Auckland region has been granted NZ$2 million (US$2.9 million) to help grow its digital content sector.

The funding, to be dispensed over two years, comes from the Ministry of Economic Development's Enterprising Auckland fund.

An additional NZ$500,000 is expected to be generated from the Auckland region, through programme and membership fees, and contributions from local economic development agencies and the digital content industry itself, according to a media release from AucklandPlus, the unit of the Auckland Regional Council which will administer the funding.

The funding grant has its origins in the Auckland Metro Project Action Plan, which was launched in 2006. Boosting the region's digital content sector was identified as a part of the programme that should be given priority.

The development programme is to begin immediately; an advisory board, made up of industry representatives, will be set up over the next few months; AucklandPlus is seeking board members.

The group will give guidance and direction to the project and "help spread the word about the various new opportunities", according to the AucklandPlus media release.

Work is also to start on establishing a sector body for digital content in Auckland, which will administer planned new programmes in branding/marketing, collaboration, research, skills/training and commercialisation.

Specific actions the new body will take to further those aims are likely to include supporting collaborative bidding for projects and partnering between companies in the industry, creating skill and knowledge-sharing tools, and centralised marketing for industry products and skills.

The new industry body will work with the existing voluntary one, the CDC (Creative Digital Collective), according to the AucklandPlus release.

There are already digital content industry bodies in Wellington and Christchurch.

The Auckland initiative is not directly related to the nationwide Digital Strategy, whose Digtal Development Forum is meeting in Wellington Tuesday.

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