Regions are Getting Connected Online; Are you leading the way?
Entries are now open for the 2017 Regional Online Heroes program, delivered by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and Google Australia.
With over 330 entries from right across the country, 20 national finalists, and two winners in the past two years, the ROH program plays a key role showcasing what can be achieved when small businesses put their minds to capturing digital economy opportunities through clever use of digital and online technologies.
Regional Australia is the unsung hero of innovation, and the success of the ROH finalists in 2015 and 2016 provide practical examples of regional people leading the way. Not only have rural and regional communities transitioned through the mining downturn, decreasing jobs in agriculture and the millennial drought, but they have done this through innovation and connectivity.
The relatively quiet story of regional innovation is just starting to be heard. Last year the RAI released a snap shot of Innovation across Australia and found that having a strong traditional research and development (R&D) presence (for example a university, or a high rate of scientists and professionals) does not necessarily mean a region is more innovative. On the contrary, the RAI discovered a number of regions without any R&D presence showing a strong capacity for innovation.
Places like Warrnambool in Victoria are demonstrating their potential through their high number of business start-ups and owner managers. The regional cluster of Byron, Ballina and Lismore in New South Wales have shown their innovative side through their high trademark application rates, but low proportions of people employed in science and engineering.
When we take a look at ‘innovation’ more closely, we can see it comes in four main pillars; New or improved products, processes, marketing strategies and organisational innovation creating new wealth or value. All of these are important to consider when taking action to transition regional economies.
The RAI’s Dr Kim Houghton, General Manager of Policy and Research emphasises that ‘Regional Australia is becoming a major driver of economic output and productivity growth. Innovation in regions will be crucial to drive this transition’.
Keen to see how your region stacks up? Find out more using our InSight data tool.
Are you ready to lead the way?
Innovation is powering local areas to transition their economies towards industries like health, education and professional services using connectivity. These service industries need online and face-to-face connections to access customers, services, markets, products and ideas. Innovation driving regional transition is all about getting connected.
We’ve seen some great examples of connection innovation. Central West Queensland (Remote Area Planning and Development Board) have an entrepreneur in residence, start-up weekends, co-working spaces and mum-entrepreneur courses. The RAI’s annual Regional Online Heroes competition has also unearthed some great digital examples including:
- Therapy Connect from Deniliquin (NSW): a telehealth platform helping families in remote locations access therapies online, including speech pathology and occupational therapy.
- The Rural Woman from Lightning Ridge (NSW): a multi-functional web-based networking platform connecting rural women, to enable them to trade in a global marketplace and to share and learn from each other.
- Off the Track Training from Longreach (QLD): provides fitness, nutrition and motivational strategies for people in any location, including rural, regional and remote Australia via the internet.
Is your region hiding this year’s Regional Online Hero?
The search is now on for the 2017 Regional Online Hero. In partnership with Google Australia, we are searching for businesses in regional Australia using technology and the internet to grow. This could mean anything from using online marketing to attract new customers, expanding a traditional bricks and mortar store to selling online, or managing a team across borders using online productivity tools.
Ten lucky finalists will receive the opportunity to travel to Google in Sydney to attend an exclusive digital marketing masterclass on Friday 1 December, where they will share their stories and develop new skills.
To enter or for more information visit regionalaustralia.org.au/regionalonlineheroes/