What is the Hunter best at?

Today’s an important day for the Hunter Region. It’s about our future. What future the Hunter wants.  And what we’ll do to give us the best chance of having a prosperous future.

In 2013, RDA Hunter developed the first Hunter Innovation Scorecard. This was a first for any region in Australia. It gave us a snapshot of how innovative Hunter businesses were.

PRIORITIES: Todd Williams, Senator Arthur Sinodinos with Head of the Economic and Trade at the E-Delegation in Australia, Ivanoa Casella. Picture: Marina Neil:

PRIORITIES: Todd Williams, Senator Arthur Sinodinos with Head of the Economic and Trade at the E-Delegation in Australia, Ivanoa Casella. Picture: Marina Neil:

Last year, we measured how innovative we were against not just ourselves, but against the European Union. In other words, benchmarking us against 190 European regions. How did we go?  Well, above the EU average for some things – collaborating with other businesses, and innovating in-house.  And around average on other measures linked to marketing and organisational innovation. It was a valuable exercise. By measuring innovation, we not only identified areas for improvement, if we are to compete globally, but we also learned how innovation is critical, when used in the correct way, to create prosperity and jobs.

This brings me to Smart Specialisation. The Smart Specialisation strategic framework has been developed by the OECD. It’s used in the EU for regions to identify and develop what they’re best at.  In fact, it’s one of the main ways the European Regions create jobs and prosperity.  It’s a regional development program supported by a 60 billion Euro fund.

We all know and we’re constantly reminded that things are changing. Globalisation, smart, mobile technologies and how we live are shaping our future.  Of course, we don’t want to be left behind, so we need to keep up with the times and, with our competitors.

We don’t just need to know what our current strengths are, we need to commit to emerging areas that we believe we’ll be good at in the future.  

The Hunter is the first in Australia to undertake Smart Specialisation and in this process, RDA Hunter welcomes the support and critical thinking of Professor Roy Green and Dr John Howard from the Business School at UTS. The Hunter’s Smart Specialisation outlines seven key strengths and opportunities to establish the Hunter as “the place in the world” for:

  1. Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS);
  2. Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals;
  3. Food and Agribusiness;
  4. Advanced Manufacturing;
  5. Oil, Gas, and Energy Resources;
  6. Defence Technologies;
  7. Creative Industries;

But how do we rank them as a region? With your input and feedback this information will go into the final document to be released in late January.

The Federal Government released, for the first time, a National Innovation and Science Agenda.  At the launch, the Prime Minister said, “We need to embrace new ideas in innovation and science, and harness new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity in Australia”.

As an economic development organisation we welcome this initiative with a great deal of enthusiasm.  Not least, because it gives us another way to compete for talent on the world stage.

This is an excerpt from Todd Williams’s speech at the Smart Specialisation event.