Regional areas become innovation hotspots

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has partnered with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) to produce an update to the RAI's [In]Sight Innovation Index which identifies hotspots of innovation and entrepreneurialism in regional Australia.

The document, Innovation in Regional Australia: Spreading the Innovation Boom, finds that, while big cities are the nation’s key innovation assets and only 26 regional local government areas (LGAs) have a registered R&D institution, the emergence of start-ups, business accelerators, co-working spaces and entrepreneurial hot spots is driving a growing capacity for innovation in regional areas.

The report identified more than 150 regional areas have higher than average rates of innovative capacity that provide a foundation for spreading the ‘Ideas Boom’.

“Knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) – from legal and accounting, to design and marketing – are one indicator of a rich and innovative local business network and a key measure of emerging innovation capacity in many of these regions used by [In]Sight.

“Regional places including Bunbury (WA), Byron (NSW), Gladstone (Qld), Wodonga (Vic), Mt Barker (SA) and Launceston (Tas) all show emerging capability in KIBS.

“Places like Darwin (NT), Gold Coast and Gladstone (Qld) rank highly in terms of this rich local business network, and also have high rates of business start-ups.”

Areas such as Palerang (NSW/ACT), Byron (NSW) and Surf Coast (Vic) combine the rich local business network with a high rate of trademark applications suggesting existing businesses in these places are innovating successfully.

However, Australia's older industrial centres are performing poorly in terms of innovation.

“Places like Playford, Wakefield and Port Pirie (SA), Glenorchy (Tas), Broken Hill (NSW) and Mildura (Vic) are all near the bottom of the innovation rankings. Despite many years of concerted effort, these places are not showing the innovation and entrepreneurship ingredients that can help them transition to a new economic base.”

An exception is Geelong, and the report suggests that Geelong and other areas in regional Australia that are doing well “may offer the lessons other places need to successfully transition from an old economy base to an innovation driven future.”

In conclusion the report notes that “regional innovation systems are much more diverse and geographically spread than we have traditionally thought.”

“Retaining and growing our national and regional strength in R&D remains important, but for most regions the opportunity is in the Business Dynamo. Areas that can build this commercial innovation capability will be positioned to thrive in Australia’s new economy.”

The report, Innovation in Regional Australia: Spreading the Innovation Boom, is available here.

[In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index can be accessed here

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