Thursday, 16 May, 2019


A higher proportion of Hunter businesses report having innovated in 2018 than the national rate, according to the latest data from the HRF Centre.

The HRF has collected data on local business innovation since 2009. Each year 300 local businesses are asked whether they introduced new or significantly improved goods and services in the year prior. Figures from the 2018 survey were released at the Hunter Economic Breakfast on 16 May. They show that 45 per cent of Hunter businesses said that they innovated during the year prior. This rate is above the national rate of businesses claiming to have successfully introduced or implemented a new good or service (17%) or any broader innovation (38.3%) in 2016-17. The Hunter rate is on par with the proportion of businesses claiming to be innovation-active Australia wide.

Dr Anthea Bill, HRF Centre’s lead economist, said the latest data show why innovation is an imperative for all businesses in the Hunter.

“Our Hunter time series confirms that there is a relationship between innovation and improved performance,” Dr Bill stated. “It also shows that the benefits for firms who innovate have been growing over time.”

In 2009, the start of the HRF data series, there was virtually no difference between innovators and non-innovators in the share of firms reporting improved profitability. In 2018, firms who were innovating were more likely to report their profitability was increasing ‘moderately or substantially’ than non-innovating firms. The same was true of firms who were hiring, exporting and experiencing improved trading performance. Greater benefits accrued to innovators versus non-innovators in 2018 compared to 2009.

Dr Bill delivered her insights on the growth of the Hunter’s innovation ecosystem to a 250-strong business audience at the breakfast in Newcastle. Her research demonstrates the value to cities and regions of connectivity and open innovation. Click on the link to download the Centre’s latest Innovation in Hunter Businesses publication.

Sander Van Amelsvoort, Director of SJS Strategy, and the Immediate Past President of the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Australia, was guest speaker at the breakfast. He provided an international case study in collaboration across sectors on development of a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Eindhoven.

Eindhoven has successfully transitioned its economy, over two decades, to be recognised as one of the most innovative regions in Europe. With only four per cent of the Netherlands population, the Greater Eindhoven area - now known as the 'Brainport' region - generates 44 per cent of the country’s patents and 19 per cent of its private investment. Van Amelsvoort shared some ‘takeaways’ for Newcastle and the Hunter based on Eindhoven’s experiences.

The Hunter Economic Breakfast was an event in the 2019 Hunter Innovation Festival.

Click the link to download the speaker presentations.