Archive for March, 2012

Memo Mr. O’Farrell – regional development is all about connectivity

March 28, 2012

The O’Farrell Government seems to be making a reasonable fist of things, but it will surely be judged on how it tackles three issues – Sydney’s transport system, electricity prices and urban and regional development.

Why urban and regional development? Well Sydney’s traffic congestion, housing shortages and high rents are each a manifestation of past neglect of urban planning. But NSW policymakers simply don’t understand how its regions can help address Sydney’s problems.

By contrast, think for a moment of western Europe – regional cities in France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Italy and the UK tend to be bigger, more confident, more independent and they invariably host specialised industrial activity that defines them. And the European cities generally have fast and inexpensive air and train services connecting them to their world cities.

But back here Sydney sits like a seething blob on the edge of the Pacific, sucking in travellers from distant parts but exhibiting little business and cultural interaction with its regional cities, except for Newcastle and Wollongong.

So in one sense it wasn’t surprising when the NSW Department of Trade and Investment announced the closure of its offices in Goulburn, Broken Hill, Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour and Parramatta.

Leaving Parramatta aside, this is a real kick in the guts to the regional cities affected. Coffs Harbour has a population of 70,000 and the second busiest airport in NSW. Goulburn is the anchor city of a rich agricultural region. Tweed Heads is part of a bustling cross-border conurbation that is a long way from Sydney. And Broken Hill is home to world-class mineral and environmental assets. So how can they be adequately serviced out of cities hours away, respectively Port Macquarie, Wollongong, Lismore and Dubbo?

These new arrangements are not only insulting and send bad signals to investors, but they defy regional development best practice, which is that connectivity systems are critical. That is to say, regional officials have a critical role in connecting people and organisations, and connecting regions to potential investors and government officials in the major cities.

Goulburn will be a key test of changing this wrong-headed decision. Local state member Pru Goward is also minister for community services, and would appreciate the connectivity issue. And Goulburn’s sister city is Yass, where local state member Katrina Hodgkinson is also the minister for small business. Together they can hopefully point out the folly of this decision. Watch this space.

This article appears in Rod Brown’s Good Oil column, April 2012 (LG Focus)


Cluster Pulse – India’s cluster agency

March 6, 2012

We have been approached by Jagat Shah, CEO of Cluster Pulse in Gujarat, one of the most prosperous state of India, concerning the possibility of linking up with Indian companies involved in their clusters.

Cluster Pulse is well-known in international economic development circles. It says that the region is the largest and fastest growing in India, and is keen to develop trading relationships with overseas firms using clusters as the vehicles for such interaction.

We really welcome his approach and his enthusiasm – their website has a good deal of relevant material. We are currently following up to determine how best to realise improved trade and investment outcomes via Cluster Pulse and similar facilities in other countries.

Collaborator Profile – Carmen Sillero (Andalucía, Spain)

March 6, 2012


I’m Carmen Sillero (Masters Degree, Agronomical Engineering), Head of International Programmes at the Agency of Innovation and Development of Andalusia (Agencia IDEA). Andalusia is the southernmost region in Spain, on the south west vertex of the European Union. Most populous (8.4 million inhabitants) and second largest of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities (87,957 km2).


I am responsible for the international activities at Agencia IDEA. That means, mainly the management of a range of territorial cooperation programmes among the European regions, funded by the European Union, and the foresight of international opportunities to better connect andalusian economic agents in the global market. As an Innovation Agency, attached to the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Science, our objectives are:
 Promotion of public-private partnerships.
 Development of the spirit of enterprise and innovation.
 Design and implementation of quality support services.
 Provision of capital resources for the support and finance of businesses.
 Establishment of an appropriate administrative environment adapted for the creation of business.

One of our main tasks is to foster the andalusian participation in international cooperating networks, mainly those focused on innovation and business cooperation.


Spain is suffering the tougher crisis since the 1940’s, after the civil war. Although the huge effort my region has made in the last 20 years on improving human capacities and creating knowledge facilities to support a new economic model, the current economic situation is forcing andalusian firms to close and therefore many jobs are being destroyed.

Is in this moment when our Regional Government is asked by the European Commission to propose a new strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, by which our territorial challenges should be faced. This strategy must be based on:
 The specialisation of our productive sector, in line with the improvement of our R&D capacities and the enhancement of our human resources skills.
 Strengthening of territorial cooperation.
 Linking our firms into global value chains.


1 Engagement on the achievement of a clear and shared common target.
2. Mutual understanding. Different cultures, different approaches, but the same goal.
3. Hard work. Resilience.


We are a Regional Development Agency, thus glad to share experiences and develop common projects with other public institutions re promotion, support, funding of innovative SMEs, focused in internationalization.

Given Andalusian industrial capacities and R&D strengths, our work on healthy food, biotechnology, tourism and renewable energy, could be very interesting areas for collaboration.

Aligning our strategies for joint market exploration could be especially worthy.

(Carmen is a tireless collaborator – she was a key organizer of the OECD/EC Smart Specialisation Strategies workshops in Seville in November 2011. Agencia IDEA is an ideal partner for facilitating trade and investment with Spanish companies. Contact her at – Editor)


UCLA’s smart deployment of students

March 6, 2012

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has a really smart program – the Global Access Program (GAP) where its MBA students prepare business plans for companies aiming to crack the US market with new products.

Companies pay a modest fee, and in return they get the business plan plus the strategic thinking and ideas that underpin it.

We figure that many Australian companies must forge partnerships to crack overseas markets. We thus met recently in Sydney with UCLA reps to see how GAP can be delivered to Australian companies. We were also keen to see how it could be extended to more Australian companies.

As a separate exercise, we mulled over how UCLA might assist with our Sunrise Project (linking clusters and networks).

If YOU have companies in your midst with a likely interest, please contact us, or UCLA’s key contact in Australia, Phil Chynoweth or 0415 919191.


Brave New World – Toggle Media

March 6, 2012

NBN and Federal Government funding is leading to new media projects as the rollout of broadband encourages the development of online education partnerships in creative new ways.

Toggle Media, a Sydney based, but ‘office-less’, new interactive media company which develops online education utilising existing face to face and paper based learning materials, has just gained a contract through ISIS (Interactive Skills Integration Scheme) to work with ARK (a gaming company), and the University of New England’s SiMERR Australia to turn a facilitated literacy and numeracy program into an interactive online and mobile delivered product.

This is a federally funded project under DEEWR and DBI and is led by Australia’s leading centres for creative industries research and business development: the Creative Industries Innovation Centre (CIIC), the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCi) and QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA).

The aim of the project is to provide the opportunity for start up new media companies to partner with established businesses to provide a positive long term outcome.

Involvement in an ISIS Pilot Integration provides Interactive Media practitioners with an opportunity to extend their skills across industry sector boundaries and bolster their professional development by working closely with dedicated business transformation mentors and experts from selected industry sectors.

Call Margaret Cameron on 0418 708 567 or email if you’d like to know more.

(Margaret is a very collaborative person and a long-time Cockatoo member – Editor)


Succeeding in the Asian Century – the role of services

March 6, 2012

Andrew McCredie, Executive Director, Australian Services Roundtable has forwarded a thought-provoking assessment of Australia’s opportunity to be a high value services provider to the Asian region.

To achieve this, the following is required:

 Understand the potential of our services sector as the basis of an export industry
 Improve Australia’s readiness to capitalise on the incredible opportunity provided by our proximity to Asia and the demand in Asia for services.
 Align domestic and international policy settings to drive innovation and growth in the sector.

These issues will be the focus for discussion at the Succeeding in the Asian Century – Services Summit in Canberra 14 – 15 March. Please click here to download the program and registration form. Click here to download ASR’s submission to the Asian Century Taskforce.

(Our colleagues outside the Asia Pacific should consider this submission because real opportunities exist for alliances with Australian operators in this sector. Contact Andrew! – Editor)