Archive for May, 2009

Think hubs!

May 14, 2009

Industry Minister Carr has subconsciously recognised the importance of place is because he is quietly funding industry centres and hubs around Australia. For example, a mining technology centre in Mackay, a creative industries hub around UTS in inner Sydney, a defence hub in Dandenong, a clean energy centre in Newcastle.

These examples of ‘localised capability and competitive advantage’ can equally apply to social and environmental projects. Members are advised to ponder the following:

  • The feds are currently announcing a spate of local infrastructure spending e.g. $2.4 million for a 15 hectare eco-tourism precinct on the Swan River, $910k for a Marine Discovery Centre at Bondi Beach. This is smart, because the expenditure aligns with local competitive advantage.
  • The Jobs Fund is providing another tranche of relevant expenditure ($650 million) right NOW.
  • The Building Australia Fund will eventually roll-out like a latter day Super Auslink program, and the city suits will be looking for local competitive advantage, critical mass and alliance partners.

We are excited by the potential for our members to use the ‘competitive hub’ concept to get some very worthy projects off the ground. Indeed, my crystal ball shows real potential for:

  • International aid hubs e.g. Cairns, Darwin.
  • Food value-adding hubs e.g. northern Adelaide
  • Eco-tourism corridors e.g. East Gippsland, Central Ranges (Victoria), Darling Ranges.
  • Logistics hubs e.g. Parkes, Shepparton, Ipswich.
  • Historical tourism and lifestyle hubs e.g. Braidwood, Chiltern.
  • Environmental management hubs e.g. eastern Adelaide, Sunshine Coast.
  • Indigenous arts and culture hubs that actually work e.g. Wilcannia, Broken Hill.
  • Recreation, health and social service hubs e.g. Wee Waa, Port Macquarie, Port Augusta. 

 Progressing these possibilities is beyond a gopher writing an application. Contact us for further details.

Japanese urged to facilitate inwards FDI (BEST PRACTICE)

May 14, 2009

A new report from Harvard Business School researchers suggests that Japan’s hierarchical forms of business organization serve to impede innovation by “locking out” certain forms of new ideas and concepts. The authors say Japan needs to introduce new legislative measures that break up these barriers.

Suggested reforms include stricter antitrust enforcement, improving the legal infrastructure (e.g., supporting training for more business law attorneys), and lowering barriers to foreign investment.

All of these steps will help free up the flow of ideas and creativity in Japan’s business sectors.  “Capitalizing on Innovation:  The Case of Japan,” by Robert Dujarric and Andrei Hagiu, Harvard Business School.

Contributed by Mark Marich at Entrepreneurship.ORG

Universities must engage in regions, says OECD

May 14, 2009

 A very interesting OECD report “Higher Education and Region’ has landed on our desk, written by Cockatoo member and ‘Oz-phile’ Patrick Dubarle, Paul Benneworth et al. It should be compulsory reading for every Vice-Chancellor, university academic and regional development practitioner in the civilized world. It draws on findings from 14 regions across 12 countries.

 The basic message is that higher education institutions (HEIs) must do more than educate and research – they must engage with others in their region, provide opportunities for lifelong learning, and contribute to the development of knowledge-intensive jobs.

 The report synthesizes the main developments, and provides scores of examples of best practice. Some that attracted our attention are:

  • The ‘Knowledge House’ in NE England – addresses the reluctance of SMEs to go anywhere near a university by providing a nifty, common entry point to the five universities in the region.
  • University Jaume I in Valencia – helping to transform the SME-based ceramic tile industry.
  • University of Sunderland – helping to make Nissan’s new plant the most productive in Europe.
  • Provincial University of Lapland – reaching out to remote communities.
  • Aalborg University (Denmark) building its education program around Problem Based Learning.
  • Monterrey International Knowledge City (MICK) in north east Mexico.

 The book can be purchased on-line at the OECD – ISBN 978-92-64-03414-3. Patrick Dubarle is now a freelance consultant, living at beautiful Meudon – contact him at

Africa beckons

May 14, 2009

Cockatoo members are currently involved in follow-up to the visit by the UAE delegation. It prompted a member to raise some very interesting ‘What if’ questions.

 My partner is currently based in Nigeria which I also visit (apart from the Gulf) and, believe me, that is an area where plenty of opportunities exist for an enterprising nation. They have lots of gas and oil reserves and other minerals, with the Chinese very visible in Nigeria sewing up contracts for these natural resources. However the Chinese don’t build back local infrastructure like the western nations, so the Africans are looking for other partners – but money really talks in Africa.

 France seems to be the major source of quality food imports. Quality food is in really short supply and there is major demand. A plane from France lands in Lagos once each week to supply one Victoria Island market, with all the stock sold by day’s end for very high prices e.g. $30 for 500g of ice cream – rich Nigerians and expats willing to pay. In the supermarket, I saw dairy from Ireland, soap powder and biscuits from USA, but nothing from OZ. All the meat/fresh produce seems to be from France. Surely we could undercut?

 Demand for education and skills training is endless and they also need help with managing their infrastructure, setting up regulatory frameworks, logistics/governance programs etc. Africa is emerging. All we see in the media is a constant supply of ‘poor babies stories’ but there are many versions of Africa so opportunities abound. Nigeria has so much oil, gas, mineral wealth not to mention the vast quantity of Aid money which is such an enormous industry one can’t see it ending anytime soon. Contracts in the millions of dollars are freely exchanged. It is all a matter of connecting with the right person in government. Yes there are issues and deals for trade/Aid, but even with that it is a market we shouldn’t ignore.

 Contributed by Fionnuala Livingston, Port Macquarie NSW

Measuring innovation (BEST PRACTICE)

May 14, 2009

A new Athena Alliance report presents some alternative frameworks for measuring innovation.

It focuses on tools to measure categories of intangibles – human capital, intellectual capital, organizational capital.

Two separate frameworks are proposed.

One emphasizes the firm level, and tracks factors such as employer-provided training and R&D spending.

The second approach is investment-focused, tracking education spending, IT spending, and other investments.

The researchers do not offer any final conclusions, but focus on providing suggested metrics that can be utilized by other researchers.

 ’Frameworks for Measuring Innovation’ – Susan Rose, Stephanie Shipp, Bhavya Lal, Alexandra Stone.

Contributed by Mark Marich at Entrepreneurship.ORG