Hunter Becoming an Innovation Hub

Filed under Industry, News, Science & Research ~ by Press on  16 May 2019

Hunter businesses more innovative than national counterparts.

A higher proportion of Hunter businesses introduced ‘new to the world’ innovation in 2018 than the national rate, according to the latest data from the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) Centre.

The HRF has collected data on local business innovation since 2009. Each year 300 local businesses are asked whether they introduced new or significantly improved goods and services in the year prior.

Figures from the 2018 survey released at Thruday morning’s Hunter Economic Breakfast in Newcastle show that 45 per cent of Hunter businesses said that they innovated during the year prior.

This rate is above the national rate of businesses claiming to have successfully introduced or implemented a new good or service (17%) or any broader innovation (38.3%) in 2016-17. The Hunter rate is on par with the proportion of businesses claiming to be innovation-active Australia wide

Dr Anthea Bill, HRF Centre’s lead economist, said the data show why innovation is an imperative for all businesses in the Hunter.

Our Hunter time series confirms that there is a relationship between innovation and improved performance,” Dr Bill said.

It also shows that the benefits for firms who innovate have been growing over time.”

In 2009, the start of the HRF data series, there was little difference between innovators and non-innovators in the share of firms reporting improved profitability. In 2018, firms who were innovating were more likely to report their profitability was increasing ‘moderately or substantially’ than non-innovating firms. The same was true of firms who were hiring, exporting and experiencing improved trading performance. Greater benefits accrued to innovators versus non-innovators in 2018 compared to 2009.

Greater Newcastle already ticks boxes with the light rail and transport system, smart city elements, growth of the innovation network, plans to expand port and airport capabilities and develop the university and health precincts.

The rising figures since 2013 suggest that regional
businesses are becoming more innovative.

It is estimated that 40 per cent of Australian jobs are
at risk of automation in the next 10-15 years vi . Already,
occupations that are ‘high touch’ and ‘high skill’ have
grown, while routine low-skill jobs have been shed.

Our Hunter time series confirms that there is a relationship between innovation and improved performance (self- reported). It also shows that the benefits for firms who innovate have been growing over time.

The region is showing ‘green shoots’ in knowledge-intensive segments according to recent ABS data on counts of local businesses.

Compared to other, similarly-sized, Australian cities,
employees in ‘Newcastle-Maitland’ have a greater number of contacts that are local … a need for workforce networks to be more externally focused, and to reach into new economy segments (is indicated) as a necessary next step for the Greater Newcastle region.

~ from Innovation in Hunter Businessess May 2019

Dr Bill’s research and insights on the growth of the Hunter’s innovation ecosystem demonstrates the value to cities and regions of connectivity and open innovation.

Sander Van Amelsvoort, Director of SJS Strategy, and the Immediate Past President of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Australia was guest speaker at the breakfast. He provided an international case study in collaboration across sectors on development of a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Eindhoven.

Eindhoven has successfully transitioned its economy, over two decades, to be recognised as one of the most innovative regions in Europe. With only four per cent of the Netherlands population, the Greater Eindhoven area – now known as the ‘Brainport‘ region – generates 44 per cent of the country’s patents and 19 per cent of its private investment.

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