Keston Technologies Services

Analysis into Successful Innovation in Regional Western Australia

 

Project overview

On behalf of the Department of Commerce and in association with the Western Australian Technology and Industry Advisory Council (TIAC), Keston Technologies undertook a project to explore the factors that influence the success of innovation in regional areas of WA in order to provide recommendations for new strategies to stimulate regional innovation and add value to the State.

 

 

Issues

The main aim of the study was “to make recommendations for new strategies to stimulate regional innovation and add value to the State”.  At one extreme, a potential approach would have been to simply generate lists of current innovation activities and opportunities for each region. However, local variation (due to local factors, non-location related factors, and most significantly, random variation) prevents such lists forming a coherent pattern. Seeking to “create value for the state” starting from lists of unrelated innovations involves developing a set of equally unrelated initiatives, tailored to each opportunity. Attempting such an approach at any level other than the local level is highly problematic. It assumes someone outside the region would be in a better position than local stakeholders to decide what is best for each initiative and prospect, and in the absence of any common themes it was difficult to see where this privileged insight would come from. The approach would also be highly inefficient, and extremely complex and unwieldy to manage.

At the other extreme is an approach that defines a standard set of strategies and actions to be implemented by each region in the same way. Such an approach would be highly leveraged, very efficient, and the easiest process to manage and monitor at State level. It would also be highly ineffective, as it rides roughshod over the many factors already discussed that make each region unique.

To overcome these pitfalls, the approach for the study was therefore to plot the middle ground via a “common process, local answers” approach. Commonly perceived regional factors were translated into common frameworks and a standardised approach to the analysis, panning and monitoring of regional innovation activities, as well as a set of strategies designed to address the factors perceived to be common across all regions. At the same time, the approach recognised the great diversity of the state’s regional areas. The unique challenges and opportunities in, for example, the Pilbara are radically different to the unique challenges and opportunities in the Great Southern region, and therefore local input and engagement is critical to success. Directly engaging the regional stakeholders and innovators in a common analysis and planning approach based on the insights of this study enabled these stakeholders to tap into the collective wisdom of their peers in other regions, whilst providing the degrees of freedom they need to develop appropriate local approaches. It also provided a practical means of aggregating the activities in all regions into a coherent overview for the state that can be used for public policy and planning decisions.

 

Outcomes achieved

The work was important as it is widely recognised that innovation is a key driver of economic development. Through stakeholder interviews and associated surveys, the study collected information and evidence  to:

  • Identify a wide range of examples of both successful and unsuccessful innovations originating from regional areas of WA,
  • Identify factors that contributed to the success of these innovations and/or barriers encountered that limited or prevented the success of their innovations,
  • Identify the key locations of regional innovators and the factors that lead innovators to choose those locations,
  • Identify the key factors that underpin the success of innovation in regional areas,
  • Identify areas of focus that offer the greatest opportunity to stimulate innovation and add value to the State.

 

Innovation in Regional Western Australia