GOLD COAST MUST DRIVE 'IDEAS BOOM'
8 December 2015, Written by Janelle Manders, HLB Mann Judd
AFTER just 24 hours it's hard to measure the impact of yesterday's much-anticipated innovation policy statement on launching Australia's "ideas boom".
However, one thing we can be certain of is that the Gold Coast is already leading the way in creating a more vibrant and dynamic community through our hard-working, risk-taking and enterprising roots. We just need to continue to fuel our culture of innovation with strategic, big-picture thinking.
Driving innovation means looking not only at startups and younger businesses, but also at how we can better help established businesses to embrace change and constantly reinvent themselves.
The Gold Coast is a magnet for these types of private businesses - they work hard, employ people, influence the community, make money and pay taxes. They are the true lifeblood of the Australian economy and we must ensure government (at all levels) provide a supportive environment for them.
These businesses must continue to innovate to remain viable and bureaucracy should support this action as opposed to merely helping businesses survive.
As commerce faces unprecedented disruption, we must inspire them to take more risks exploring new technologies, products and services, capitalising on emerging markets, encouraging employees to educate and up-skill, and driving research and development.
In order to embrace the "ideas boom" and deliver the industries and skills of the future, we must encourage all businesses and individuals to invest in themselves, providing them with the strategic support to do so.
Let's not forget how private business can continue to drive innovation:
Champion private business owners
The Government has once again targeted its support to the smaller end of town, rather than acknowledging the support private businesses need. Private businesses are characterised by one or two owners who are passionate, driven and decisive thinkers their organisations are lean, have effective decision-making and are less constrained by rigid organisation structure. Every dollar spent impacts on the profitability of their venture and their personal capacity to live and accumulate wealth, so every business decision is a personal one and is accompanied by some level of risk. However, unless you're a microbusiness with turnover of less than $2 million, it seems that the Government treats you the same as if you were BHP. Government needs to better understand the dynamics of these businesses and how they influence the community, to better support them in succeeding.
The Government has acknowledged that talents and skills underpin our ability to innovate, reinforcing the importance of businesses adopting the concept of life long education and continuing personal development.
Businesses should encourage education and training programs for employees irrespective of their link to income producing activities. Similarly, individuals should also undertake education courses that provide them with skills outside of those required for their jobs. This is how we expand our workforce with the skills and abilities to innovate into the future.
Encourage innovation activities
Unfortunately, there is an anomaly under our current taxation system deductions are only eligible if the expenditure is incurred generating income and not capital in nature. While the Government outlined some policies encouraging investment in innovation activities, public money is limited and private businesses are normally the ones that miss out.
It doesn't make it any less important for private business to invest company profits into growth or innovation activities such as developing digital functionality, connectivity and exploring new markets. Innovation is about the future and what it could look like, taking on more risks exploring possibilities that are normally not connected to current business.
Greater collaboration between university and industry
We welcome the Government's announcement embracing better collaboration between industry and higher education to achieve outcomes based on what they both do best; businesses have big dreams and know how to implement them and universities excel at knowledge and research.
At present the Gold Coast has world-class universities and TAFE's, however the level of interaction with the business community has historically been done on a random and ad-hoc basis. A more structured approach with formal framework and incentives for both sides will result in not only world class business, but also a Nobel Prize or two coming to the Gold Coast.
Author: Janelle Manders, HLB Mann Judd
About: Janelle Manders is managing partner of HLB Mann Judd – Gold Coast, director of the Gold Coast Football Club and inaugural chair of the Friends of Griffith Business School.