Innovation is increasingly seen as the fuel that boosts a region. And in a first for Victoria, a region-wide survey was conducted as part of the GS3 to provide insights on Gippsland’s business innovation activities.
The survey’s questions related to areas such as:
— Forms of introduced innovation (product, process, organisational, marketing);
— Forms of cooperation for research and development;
— Business information (the type of industry, location, size, markets and employee structure).
More than 450 Gippsland businesses, of different sizes, industry sectors and locations, took part in the survey.
Encouragingly, the findings were that 63% of the Gippsland survey respondents were innovative, stating that they have introduced at least one innovation type (product, process, organisational, or marketing) during the last three years; in comparison, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) had recorded 57.8% as an Australian average. Kudos, Gippslandians!
63% of the Gippsland survey respondents were innovative.
The most innovative businesses could be linked to the following industry sectors:
— Health Care and Social Assistance;
— Education Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Information;
— Media and Telecommunications and Wholesale.
The analysis of the survey data revealed a distinct micro- and small-business landscape in Gippsland. The majority (67%) of the businesses reported having 0 to 4 employees. Like analysis conducted by the EU and OECD, the Gippsland data shows that larger businesses are more likely to introduce innovations.
Additionally, Gippsland’s businesses have a strong local or regional focus. Only 16% of the businesses stated that the most important market (in terms of revenue) is outside of Victoria. International markets were mentioned by only 4% of businesses, signally an avenue for potential substantial growth.
The UoM researchers behind the study state that, “A better understanding of how innovation is created, organised and embedded in regional networks is required”.
The OECD has highlighted the importance of innovation as a key driver of regional economic development, community wealth-building and resilience. Gippsland can gain much from international examples that show that economic development and innovation processes often depend on cooperation, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. More private and public co-investment could be injected to support research and demonstration projects too.
While Gippslandians may currently be an above-average innovative bunch, this year’s bushfires and a global pandemic have clearly shown the importance of continually nurturing our community’s resilience and well-being. And, when have we ever settled for just being ‘above-average’?! That’s the kicker about being innovative, we’re always seeking to improve and get better.