IBM Delivers Additional Details of its Smarter City Challenge Recommendations for Christchurch

Report identifies opportunities for collaboration and innovation to enhance region’s economic development

Christchurch, New Zealand - 17 Sep 2013: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today provided Christchurch with a comprehensive set of recommendations to help guide its recovery.   The guidance provided builds upon an oral report it delivered earlier this year resulting from an IBM study funded by an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant. 

As an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipient in 2013, Christchurch was awarded access to six of IBM's top experts who spent three weeks embedded in the city in May. Working alongside Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) on a pro bono basis, the IBM team developed recommendations designed to enable Christchurch to maximise its economic opportunities that can accrue from the use of technology, its vibrant innovation ecosystem, the education and engagement of citizens and the unique capabilities of the surrounding agricultural region.

To help Christchurch become a more knowledge-intensive, sustainable city underpinned by long term economic development, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team identified key initiatives to capitalise on the Canterbury region’s existing strengths. These include projects to improve agriculture, education and innovation, helped by the estimated NZ$40 billion investment in rebuilding the city - arguably the single largest and most complex economic project in New Zealand’s history. 

“The inward flows of capital and construction workers into Christchurch over the next ten years are unprecedented in New Zealand. We must ensure that the money spent on re-building our city creates lasting economic and social benefits, and not a short term construction bubble,” says Tom Hooper, Chief Executive of Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC). “IBM’s recommendations identify ways we can play to our strengths to make Christchurch a great place to live, work, play and do business.”  

Mayor Bob Parker said; “We were inspired and energised by the IBM team’s view on the huge potential in Christchurch. The Smarter City Challenge helped connect our innovators, engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists, reinforcing our shared commitment to building a city of the future.”

IBM made a number of recommendations to the City of Christchurch including:   

  1. Leverage the region’s reputation for high quality, healthy, sustainable, trusted products through exportable agribusiness and by fiercely defending its intellectual property.
  2. Master the art of “premiumisation” to emphasise attributes unique to the region that cannot be easily replicated on the global market.
  3. Develop an integrated education system and capitalise on the reputation of Christchurch’s education institutions to develop a local talent pipeline that drives economic growth.
  4. Develop and lead a number of “collaboration hubs” that support investment in selected areas of community interest by bringing together local and global universities, schools, businesses and agencies.
  5. Use social technology to engage the creativity and energy of local people in efforts that bring lasting value to the city.
  6. Create a resilient digital infrastructure to become a highly desirable location for technology businesses in Australasia.

The full report including detailed recommendations can be found at

"Collaboration is the key to success in Christchurch. We found an impressive degree of innovation and entrepreneurship already exists within local industries such as high value manufacturing, healthcare and agribusiness,” says Drew Clark, Director of Corporate Strategy, IBM Venture Capital Group, and a member of Christchurch's Smarter City Challenge team. “Christchurch now has a unique opportunity to leverage these strengths through ’connecting the dots’ across and within these industries and other parts of the innovation ecosystem, including universities and research hubs.”

About IBM Smarter Cities Challenge

Launched in 2011, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, US$50-million competitive grant program and is IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative. Projects address issues including economic development, transportation, education, energy, public safety, urban planning and health care.

The Smarter Cities Challenge is sponsored by IBM's Corporate Citizenship program and IBM’s International Foundation. IBM has been a leader in corporate social responsibility and citizenship for more than 100 years. To find out more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants, please visit and

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As part of a commitment to 100 cities around the world, IBM selected Christchurch, New Zealand, to receive a Smarter Cities Challenge® grant. During three weeks in May 2013, a team of six IBM executives worked to deliver recommendations on a key challenge identified by the Mayor and the Canterbury Development Corporation.

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