Archive for August, 2007

Adelaide wins Seafood CRC

August 15, 2007

The SA Government announced in late June that a $137 million Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre will be established at Science Park Adelaide in Bedford Park.

 Fisheries Minister Rory McEwen said the centre would deliver an extra $700 million into the seafood industry over seven years.  ‘The CRC will provide significantly greater regional and rural opportunities for the state’s seafood sector, with local producers and other industry participants having first access to many of the technologies developed…the centre will also attract significant research for the Eyre Peninsula and Port Lincoln in particular, involving yellowtail kingfish, hatchery-reared tuna, marine scale fisheries, abalone, oysters, rock lobsters and prawns.”  Source: Advertiser

A Cities Program for Australia?

August 15, 2007

The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors is lobbying the federal government for a partnership to boost productivity, attract business investment, skill-up the workforce and promote innovation in our capital cities. 

The Council’s Chair, John So, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, says “Cities need a new working arrangement with the Federal and State governments as national and local priorities converge…we feel that Australia needs an overriding capital city policy under which the various tiers of government can work together for the long term. If our capital cities can realise their potential, Australia will prosper.”  

The agenda comes with 23 major projects – freeways, tram systems, convention centres, recycled water etc. However there are some big questions raised by this proposal:
§          Is there really that much collaborative spirit between the capital cities? (Probably not, although the lure of federal dollars can build an unholy alliance).
§          Would such a program hinder individual cities’ relations with their hinterland regions?
§          Who’s lobbying for an equivalent program for the Bush? (Nobody – so who’s up for it?).
§          Would the Howard Government buy into a Cities Program? (U-turns are possible in an election year. But it would further test the Howard government’s credibility, having quickly killed off Labor’s successful Better Cities Program).  

Sydney is under stress, Brisbane isn’t far behind. Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra need urban regeneration. Darwin and Perth have the speed wobbles. Strategic action across three levels of government is overdue…

Pacific Partnerships, says Rudd

August 15, 2007

Cockatoo’s roving reporter recently attended the address by Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Opposition leader, at the Lowy Institute, Sydney. Visionary stuff, although it was delivered in haste because he had to be somewhere else it seems. Rudd painted a grim picture:

§          If more Pacific Island states become failed states, the cost to the Australian taxpayer of emergency police, military interventions and medical supplies will be massive.
§          Increasing ethnic and political violence = wave of refugees to Australia as a country of first asylum.
§          The explosion of the HIV – AIDS pandemic in PNG presents a growing risk to the public health of Australian communities in the Torres Strait and Northern Australia.
§          Our fragile diplomatic relationships with the Pacific are creating an unprecedented strategic opportunity for non-regional states to occupy the vacuum. (= China and Korea).

Rudd announced that Labor will implement a long-term Pacific Partnership for Development and Security. This would begin with an audit and then action to:
§          Tackle the collapse in primary education and primary healthcare.
§          Build basic economic infrastructure.
§          Tackle urban male youth unemployment through targeted public works programs.
§          Provide microfinance in partnership with Australian Business Volunteers and financial institutions.
§          Emphasise good governance via training regional leaders, public servants and technical experts. Cooperation with NZ is opportune.

Go to

NZ Minister Mallard supports marine precinct

August 15, 2007

The NZ Government will provide $2 million to help develop the Hobsonville Marine Precinct, to be used for the construction of superyachts.

Economic Development Minister Mallard said “New Zealand has an excellent reputation across the spectrum of design, construction, fit-outs and marine technology. This profile was boosted at the America’s Cup through the impressive efforts of Team New Zealand and the government’s leveraging program in Valencia…the marine industry can only capitalise on this if it continues to develop resources and infrastructure that allow it to compete with offshore builders.’

 The new facility at Hobsonville will preserve the Auckland region’s reputation as a premiere international location for commissioning, refitting, repairing and building luxury vessels. The grant will help purchase equipment to allow large boats to be transported into the water.

“The project represents a unique opportunity to establish a competitive marine cluster that will ensure the continued growth of New Zealand’s marine industry, a worthy goal considering our focus on creating more internationally competitive firms” Mallard said. 

(The main superyacht/leisure boat precincts in Australia are Cairns, Fremantle, Hobart and the Gold Coast). 

On the dark side…Vestas to close another turbine plant

August 15, 2007

Vestas, the Danish multinational wind turbine manufacturer, is to close its Portland (Vic) turbine assembly plant.

The plant has only been in operation for 21/2 years, and 130 jobs will go. Jorn Hammer, VP of Vestas Asia Pacific, said ‘It’s not viable for us make further investments in the Australian market…we don’t see the market as big enough to justify the expense…when we committed to build the factory we believed there was support for the wind industry in Australia, and that has not come through to the extend we anticipated’. 

The decision comes a year after Vestas closed a similar assembly plant in Burnie (Tas), with 65 job losses.  Federal Opposition spokesman, Peter Garrett, said the closure was another kick in the guts for the renewable energy industry. But a spokeswoman for Industry Minister MacFarlane said Vestas knew the Government would not be increasing the MRET (Mandatory Renewable Energy Target) when it invested.   

Our take is that the existing MRET of 2% is worthless – consequently the two Vestas investments were only to assemble the turbines. The value-add is in the blade manufacture (and electronics), and Vestas consistently said this would only happen if the economics of the wind energy industry improved. Should Labor assume power in late 2007, incoming Environment Minister Garrett will have the opportunity to ‘put his MRET where his mouth is’ and save the Portland investment.    

On the bright side…Botany paper mill

August 15, 2007

Australian Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, announced on 20 August 2007, major project facilitation (MPF) status for the proposed upgrade of Amcor’s Botany Bay (Sydney) paper recycling mill.

The project will create up to 400 jobs during the construction, and ongoing employment for 140.“The project is expected to reduce water consumption by 30 per cent and increase the use of waste water by 35 per cent…a two-thirds reduction of city water usage, cuts in electricity usage and greenhouse gases and less waste going into landfill”

Mr. Macfarlane said.Amcor will replace two paper machines at Botany to supply low-cost recycled paper for its corrugated box packaging operations, increasing plant production capacity by 40 per cent. MPF status will provide streamlining of Commonwealth/State approvals processes and identify government programs of assistance.

Oregon’s Innovation Plan

August 15, 2007

The IEDC has flagged an interesting plan to boost innovation in Oregon USA.

It focuses on supporting place-based innovation capacity and involves $38 million for initiatives to enhance industry competitiveness, improve technology commercialization etc. Recommendations include:

§          the creation of new angel networks across Oregon.
§          new research centers for wave energy technology, nanotechnology, and drug discovery.
§          extensive efforts to support existing firms in the manufacturing, food and seafood industries. 

Access the 2007 Oregon Innovation Plan   

Maine – bond issues for ED

August 15, 2007

Public bond issues for economic developments are not common. Here is an interesting new initiative.

Maine is a microcosm of economic development challenges facing many US states and communities. With the exception of Portland, most Maine communities face a depressing mix of slowing growth, out-migration, and limited ED opportunities.  Business leaders bemoan the government’s attitude toward business growth, and the state performs poorly in annual report cards.



A 2006 Brookings Institution report, ‘Charting Maine’s Future’, highlighted important challenges facing the Maine economy. 

§          much of Maine’s workforce lacks the skills and talents to thrive in the 21st century economy.
§          Maine is generating momentum in economic clusters. Yet, these innovation clusters remain small and cannot achieve sufficient scale to have a transformational effect on regional economies.
§          The policy environment is not particularly supportive. See


Opportunity Maine is designed to help Maine’s youth to obtain a college education and remain in Maine after they graduate – tax credits of up to $2,100 per year to offset the cost of higher education. And the Maine Legislature has approved a $295 million bond referendum – to be voted on in November – 50% to be spent on transportation and 50% on ED activities:
§          $50 million for the Maine Technology Fund – biotech, marine technology and ICT.
§          $48.5 million for enhancements to the higher education system.
§          $2 million for broadband access initiatives.
§          $6.5 million for existing revolving loan funds.

If approved, these resources could have a significant impact in supporting ED. We don’t yet know how they’ll operate in practice, nor whether the funding will be approved. However, Maine is thinking and thinking big. 

Contributed by Erik Pages, Entreworks Insights

ILO report – Norway No. 1 re productivity on hourly basis

August 15, 2007



The International Labour Organisation has released its major biennial report on the world labour market.  §          The gender gap (female and male employment-to-population ratios) in East Asia and Developed Economies (12.9% points) and Middle East, North Africa and South Asia exceeds 40% points!§          Agriculture (36%) now second to the services sector (42%) as the main sector of employment. §          Productivity levels increased fastest in East Asia, where output per worker almost doubled. Considerable increases also in Central & South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) & CIS and South Asia.§          USA continues has the highest labour productivity levels (US$63,885), followed by Ireland (US$55,986) and Luxembourg (US$55,641). But Norway has highest productivity when measured on hourly basis (US$37.99), followed by USA (US$35.63) and France (US$35.08). View the 2007 ILO study, Key Indicators of the Labor Market.

Upgrading Canada’s Innovation System

August 15, 2007

Canada’s innovation system needs an upgrade and more money alone will not do the trick.

That’s the message of a new report from Canada’s Institute for Research on Public Policy. The study contends that, despite years of new investments and new programs, Canada’s prosperity growth is lagging.

It highlights three pressing challenges:
§          Canada does a poor job of commercializing new research.
§          It needs more innovative knowledge-based industries that generate high value products and services – Canadian firms are not creating transformative products and technologies.
§          Canada lacks institutions that track innovation investments and build networks between industry, government, and academia.  

The report notes that this networking role is a critical component of Canada’s economic future. Canada needs an institution or institutions that will invest in leading-edge research and encourage new research partnerships. Finland’s Tekes organization is seen as a model.  

Source: NDOE. Go to Upgrading Canada’s National Innovation System: More than Money Required