Pitopito kōrero


Old brewery now a powerhouse of industry, innovation and entrepreneurship

15 November 2023
Formerly home to the iconic Lion Brewery, Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland purchased the 5.2-hectare Khyber Pass property in May 2013

Formerly home to the iconic Lion Brewery, Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland purchased the 5.2-hectare Khyber Pass property in May 2013. Just over ten years later, many people are curious about what is happening inside the expansive facilities. Known as the Newmarket Campus, the area encompasses a wonderland of facilities, equipment and research capabilities to support the Faculties of Engineering and Science. The site also hosts the New Zealand Product Accelerator and is home to the University’s Newmarket Innovation Precinct (NIP), a multidisciplinary industry-facing research and development community.


The Newmarket Campus is adjacent to the Grafton Campus, Auckland Hospital, Mercy Hospital, and local high schools, as well as a thriving retail district and excellent accessibility by public transport and community services. Its central location adds to the opportunities for effective collaboration both within the University and with the wider community.

“The Newmarket Campus represents a unique opportunity for the University, the city and the country.  We see a dynamic future here as the centre of a wider health and education-focused innovation precinct, supporting key initiatives such as the MedTech Innovation Quarter,” says Professor Jim Metson, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research at the University, who has recently taken a leadership role as Strategic Advisor to the Newmarket Campus. “Newmarket Campus has both the space and location to enable something quite special.”

The University’s Taumata Teitei | Vision 2030 and Strategic Plan 2025 include the vision to become a global powerhouse of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. A strong network of people and facilities is central to achieving this vision and the Newmarket Campus is a key enabler, contributing to what will be the most innovative square kilometre in New Zealand.

Newmarket Innovation Precinct (NIP)

NIP is an initiative established by the University that was soft-launched in 2019 to explore ways in which community engagement and relationships can be further enhanced through a dynamic, community-minded innovation hub.

An important role of NIP is to help facilitate knowledge collaboration both within the University and especially with external partners.  The goal is to accelerate New Zealand innovation by effectively brokering relationships between academic experts and companies needing guidance with research and development. Equally, University researchers may want to explore opportunities for partnership or transform their own research into entrepreneurial endeavours and NIP can assist with this, and have a strong relationship with UniServices, the University’s knowledge mobilisation and investment company.

NIP also provides a service to help navigate the complicated logistics of research and development, such as accessing funding and IP generation and enabling access to physical infrastructure, including world-class research facilities and co-location office space.

By providing flexible options for start-ups to join a community that promotes knowledge sharing, valuable networking opportunities with the wider Auckland Innovation ecosystem are enabled. Becoming a collaborator or a co-locator at the NIP site also provides access to a broad range of benefits, such as workshops, campus events, laboratory facilities, workspace, and amenities. So far, 19 start-up companies co-locate at NIP, a number which is steadily growing.

Following a successful pilot period, NIP is ready to grow. “Scaling the current NIP capability is key to delivering the Newmarket Campus Strategy, where co-location will help the University grow a vibrant, diverse, and accessible innovation community ‘on-site’ and help shape and inform the development of the physical site,” explains Claire Bennett, NIP Industry Engagement Programme Lead.

New Zealand Product Accelerator

Located adjacent to the co-location spaces managed by NIP is the New Zealand Product Accelerator, a government-funded programme helping New Zealand companies accelerate product development through connection. “It’s about matching the pace of industry with the research depth of academia,” says Lal Azad, whose role is to help connect companies experiencing technical challenges with world-class experts to collaborate on solutions.

Big buildings and big ideas

Only one building has been added to the Newmarket site so far, with parts of the original brewery infrastructure being transformed into research facilities. “Big buildings allow big ideas,” says Jim. The surviving refurbished brewery buildings now accommodate a multitude of facilities, including industrial-scale equipment such as a wind tunnel, which allows design strength and performance testing for anything from architecture to drone flight, flumes to simulate the effects of turbulent water on infrastructure, advanced materials and additive manufacturing laboratories, a roading laboratory and Australasia’s largest seismic testing facility. An impressive nine-metre tall ‘strong wall’ allows structural integrity testing during earthquake simulations, mimicking the impact of earthquakes on buildings up to three storeys tall.

Neil Hawkes, co-founder of Vortex Power Systems (VPS) and an alumnus of the Velocity programme run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), is a co-locator at NIP and recently utilised the spacious facilities on the campus to test and develop their innovative idea for harnessing energy. VPS uses industrial wastewater to generate a wind vortex capable of recovering the power for reuse at the site. “Notionally, 7.5 to 10 percent of any industrial process or power plant emissions could be cut by using our technology,” says Perzaan Mehta, VPS CEO. “That’s a couple of hundred billion dollars of electricity, and it would be zero-carbon.”

Solving issues around sustainability is a common research and development goal amongst innovators at the Newmarket Campus, alongside MedTech and Deep Tech solutions. An example of how technology is being leveraged by the medical sector is clearly demonstrated within The Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing and Design, with its world-class capabilities in additive manufacturing. Custom casts, prosthetics, and models of patients’ bones and organs are being used to aid the design of surgical procedures and improve outcomes.

Department of Exercises Sciences’ Centre for Health and Rehabilitation Research

Located in what was formerly the brewery stables is the Department of Exercise Sciences and the Centre for Health and Rehabilitation Research that operates its Health and Rehabilitation Clinic. Amongst other services and research capabilities, the clinic is currently a major supplier of Auckland’s cardiac rehabilitation support. This is a great example of the way in which serving the community and research goals can be simultaneously achieved.

University of Auckland Society of Automotive Engineers

When entering the Newmarket Campus buildings, it’s hard to miss the array of miniature Formula One-style race cars as the Newmarket Campus is also home to the University of Auckland Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) hosted within the Bruce McLaren and Colin Giltrap Workshop. Every year, the Formula SAE team puts their innovative minds and engineering skills to the test by designing and constructing a 610cc/80kW race car with a conventional or electric engine. The car is then entered in a four-day competition of scrutineering, static and dynamic events, pitted against other Australasian Universities.