Archive for July, 2004

‘Invite in a bunch of strangers’, says small-town officials in Idaho

July 18, 2004

The IEDC has alerted us to an interesting, best-practice exercise in rural Idaho – worth contemplating.

Rural towns in need of feedback might consider the Association of Idaho Cities’ Community Review program.

It opens a town up to criticism from outsiders and residents alike, but sometimes, the best thing small-town officials can do is grit their teeth and invite in a bunch of strangers – who’ll walk around, talk to the locals, take notes and report on what the town is doing right, and what it’s doing wrong.  

Idaho’s Community Review program has involved 10 communities over 5 years. “I think it takes a lot of courage for a community to do this,” Sara Braasch, executive director of the Idaho Rural Partnership, said. After all, it means allowing outsiders and insiders alike to critique the town’s looks, prospects, attitudes and more. The reviewers make sure a criticism they offer is constructive, however. 

Eligibility for the review is restricted to towns below 10,000 residents. The community must demonstrate an effort to improve their infrastructure, bolster their economies etc. and cite specific issues they want to address e.g. land use, community involvement, economic development.

Two teams are formed:
§         Visiting team  – reps from the association, state/federal agencies, those who’ve been through the process or are planning to.
§         Home team – a smaller group of local officials and volunteers.  

The review of the town of Salmon comprised 5 home team leaders and 26 visiting team members – subdivided into 3 focus areas  – civic life and community involvement; community design, identity and land use; infrastructure, economic development prospects and airport.


Singapore’s investment incentives

July 18, 2004

The Singapore Government regularly provides incentives to encourage investment in certain sectors.

The Economic Development Board, the Trade Development Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore administer these incentives.

The main incentive given to investors is income tax relief. The income from their operations may be fully tax exempt or at concessionary rates. The current tax rate for corporations is a flat 24.5%.

As Singapore adopts a tax imputation system, an individual who receives a dividend from a company which has already paid the tax is entitled to receive a tax credit for the amount paid by the company in respect of the dividend.  

The principal legislation is the Economic Expansion Incentives Act (1967) There have been 17 amendments reflecting the need to add or alter incentives to meet a changing economic environment.  

Source: Economic Development Board, Singapore

Accessing government funding – some HOT tips

July 18, 2004

In coming months, we will provide some tips on dealing with government…and if you get stuck, perhaps we can assist. This advice is based on Oz circumstances, but there are parallels to other nations.

1. Don’t be crass by giving the impression that ‘the money’ is the overriding objective, be ready to put money on the table, and note that support through Ministerial championing may be more important.  

2. Get a feel for the structure of the government apparatus. In Canberra, there are groupings of Departments with similar mindsets – those with a strong economic/industry focus, those in the social sphere and those with mainly management/control functions. Visit their websites. 

3. Do not ignore officials. A meeting with the Minister will inevitably see you back with officials, because of the emphasis on accountability and transparency. It kicked off with Labor Minister Ros Kelly who was pilloried for using a whiteboard – shock horror! Then in the mid 1990s Liberal Senator Bronwyn Bishop crucified officials in Senate Estimates about deficiencies in their program management. The end result is a mind-boggling set of program guidelines, rules and regulations. The days of Ministers doing deals over a long lunch are over, and they need good reasons to reject their Department’s recommendations on who should receive grants. Note also that federal officials rarely provide advice these days to applicants, due to the risk of being seen to favour one applicant over another. 

4. Be wary when learning of grants for seemingly strange reasons. Industry and regional programs are not well-resourced at present, and accessing grants is a highly competitive situation. We estimate the success rate in most programs is in the 12-15% range. The rate is higher with the R&D programs, but the investment in the application process means that only the serious players go the distance.    

5. Be committed and well-resourced. Most small companies and councils are out of their league unless they hire experts to assist. Also, the administrative and reporting procedures can be onerous, especially if the recipient doesn’t have the mentality or experience. On the plus side, those that can successfully administer grants can build a reputation and track record that can translate into other opportunities. 

The full article appears in the July 2004 edition of Local Government Focus magazine.

Applied Ideas program – furniture value-adding

July 18, 2004

In 1998, David Throsby suggested that the creative industries are a set of concentric circles with individual artists whose intention is to produce ‘art for arts sake’ at the core – as the circles radiate, the creative individuals and creative content becomes more commercially focused.

Creative Clusters Ltd. in the UK suggests that ‘the old view, that science, industry and culture are essentially distinct, is obsolete and is a barrier to progress in business, social regeneration and to the development of the arts’ (2002).

To circumvent these barriers, the conventional economic silos need to be broken down, and the view that the creative sector is solely the domain of the mainstream arts disciplines, cultural events etc. needs to be challenged. Examples of successful cross-sector collaboration and its positive influence need to be fostered and promoted if this outmoded concept of the creative industries is to change.

In 2003, following the release of Throsby’s report, Don’t give up your day Job: An economic study of professional artists in Australia, David Gonsky AO, Chair of the Australia Council, stated “Government and industry need to do more to improve the income of artists – artists are forced to work two or three jobs to make a living, in many cases non-arts related jobs…we have a huge capacity to have a much larger arts and cultural scene and we just aren’t using it.’

Craftsouth’s Applied Ideas program in South Australia addresses Gonsky’s concerns, and assists designer/makers and artists to develop viable creative practices. It fosters market opportunities and skills development, and facilitates collaborative product development processes. 

Translating creative capital into economic benefit

Craftsouth understood that new strategic responses were required to assist designer/maker’s access niche markets and the manufacturing sector. Thus began the development and piloting of the Applied Ideas program.

Craftspeople are now referring to themselves as designer/makers – reflecting materials-based practices and not the traditional image of craftspeople producing their designs in limited edition by hand.

The new breed encompasses a variety of markets e.g. works for exhibition and limited run production, pieces for private and public commissions in the built environment, objects for sale through the ‘high end’ homewares market etc. They are seeking to collaborate with the manufacturing sector to access new materials and manufacturing techniques and generate volumes that studio-based production processes are unable to achieve.

The outcomes of a recent product development project facilitated by Applied Ideas included:

§         Assisted product brief development with SA based furniture retailer.

§         Brokered collaborative relationships & licensing agreements between designers and manufacturers.

§         3 ranges prototyped and accepted – 50-60 pieces of new furniture delivered into stores in May.

§         A manufacturer now looking to ship interstate, trebling the manufacturer’s output.

§         Streamlined production process – patentable chair jointing system developed.

§         Income to each designer from this case study is around $26,000 p.a. (Throsby’s report identified the average income of craftspeople and artists was $7,000 p.a.)

§         Mentoring knowledge.

§         Income from royalties – significant long-term impact on the viability of the designers’ practices.

§         Successful integration of design into the manufacturer’s tiered product offering.

§         Better-designed production jigs and jointing technique for chairs.

Jane Andrew is Executive Director of Craftsouth Centre for Contemporary Craft and Design Inc, representing over 300 designer/makers and artists in SA.

Contact: Gregory Woods, Applied Ideas Manager on (08) 8212 8211 or or

Biotech clusters…the Holy Grail

July 18, 2004

Creating a biotech cluster seems to be the Holy Grail for public officials the world over, but it’s much easier said than done. That’s one message in a new study from the Milken Institute entitled America’s Biotech and Life Sciences Cluster: San Diego’s Position and Economic Contributions 

The research focuses on San Diego, but compares it to 12 other biotech centers in the US – Boston, Seattle, Washington DC, Raleigh-Durham, San Jose, Philadelphia etc. The study ranks the clusters by R&D inputs, risk capital, human capital resources, local economic impacts etc. The result is a composite measure, with San Diego in front.

Visit  An encyclopedic perspective comes from BIO, titled Laboratories of Innovation: State Biosciences Initiatives 2004. Lists many state programs. Visit Source: National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship.

Singapore – anchoring regional HQs around clusters

July 18, 2004

A speech last year by Mr. Ko Kheng Hwa, MD of the Singapore Economic Development Board, provides an excellent insight into Singapore’s use of clusters to facilitate inwards investment. Excerpts follow.

’We are delighted that Syngenta, a global leader in agribusiness, has chosen Singapore as its regional base although we do not have any farms here. EDB has been successful in anchoring headquarters of many companies in our key industry clusters such as electronics, chemicals, biomedical and engineering.

EDB is also attracting a wide range of companies from industries beyond our key clusters to set up their regional headquarters here – luxury goods, professional services, retail services etc. Companies continue to value greatly our conducive business environment, highly skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure and openness to foreign talent and companies.

Syngenta’s decision to anchor its regional headquarters in Singapore is a strong endorsement of our attractiveness as a premier HQ location. Syngenta will be able to leverage on Singapore’s excellent infrastructure and highly skilled manpower to bring its innovations to numerous farmers across Asia Pacific as well as to drive its regional growth strategies. 

Singapore is uniquely situated at the centre of the huge food bowl of the Asia Pacific – from China, India, South-East Asia to Australasia. The region exports a huge US$87 billion of agricultural products a year. This represents big business opportunities for Singapore, although we do not grow food in Singapore.  

The EDB has stepped up its efforts to promote R&D, manufacturing, supply chain management and HQ services in the agri-food cluster. Singapore also prides itself on high food safety standards, excellent brand name and reputation for trust and reliability.

Companies can also capitalise on these strengths in activities such as product development, blending, testing and certification of food products customised to meet the varied taste buds of the Asian consumers.’ 

Kiwis and Brits collaborate on investment attraction

July 18, 2004

Our in-house analyst, Silverhawk, has uncovered a very interesting example of collaboration between NZ and the UK. We salute your inventiveness. Details follow. 

NZ companies wanting to set up in the United Kingdom can now access support from the trade and investment agencies of both NZ and the UK.

The CEOs of the relevant agencies recently signed a MOU to this effect. NZTE said that access to UKTI’s inward investment and trade services would be invaluable for NZ companies, while the UKTI spokeswoman said that “New Zealand has a wealth of innovative, forward thinking technology companies and the UK is an ideal location for those companies to grow and meet their potential. I can only see this as a win-win situation for both NZ and the UK”. 

While UKTI has assisted NZ companies in the past, the MOU allows both agencies to actively promote the benefits of using the services of the other organisation to NZ companies.

UKTI recently conducted a survey of 32 NZ companies established in the UK and was astonished to find that none of them had approached any of the UK’s inward investment agencies…New Zealanders often have a DIY approach to the UK market and then are frustrated with how long it takes to get established.

The services NZ companies can access via UKTI include assistance with visas, finding premises, accommodation, schools, access to UKTI’s trade promotion services, linking NZ companies with the network of UK regional development agencies and industry organisations.