Incentives for regional businesses. We've built the NBN at great expense; let's think outside Sydney and Melbourne. How can we make Wagga, Albury, Shep etc attractive?

user picture Jason Harrop · 2 years ago · 61 votes · 22 comments
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Australians seem to disregard anything outside of NSW and Victoria , including WA
Sheryl Frame · 2 years ago
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http://oursay.org/community/policyhack/create-a-special-economic-zone-in-seq-queensland-to-match-the-taxation-conditions-of-singapore-amp-ireland-for-high-tech-industry is interesting.
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
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If the objective is innovation rather then regional development, then this proposal is a bad idea. Innovation is much more likely in a hub like Silicon Valley and certain parts of Sydney's North Shore and North West where there is a pool of suitable skills and sufficient density of innovators and wannabes for then to interact with each other.
Glenn Phillips · 2 years ago
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The proposal here, such as it is, is two fold: (1) as Andy White puts it below "making it easy for regional entrepreneurs to get to major city technology hubs", and (2) designate/annoint a few "smart regional centres" in each state, then do things to attract people there. Ultimately, innovation happens when one or several people are motivated to start a business, and inspiring enough to attract other people to join them. IMO interaction is overrated, and often a distraction. In any case, the internet provides enough of it. What you need is a few good people who can focus, and the ability to attract more as you grow over time. We could make an admittedly shortish list of successful Aussie startups (inc eg Safety Culture) which aren't located in Sydney/Melbourne, but the point is, they can exist quite happily. Obviously it helps to be close to one of those cities... access to talent probably follows an inverse square law with distance. Although if you have to commute, its better to commute against the traffic (ie if you don't live in an inner suburb, its better to travel away from the city everyday), so that works in favour of satellite locations. If you look at the UK, yes, there is Silicon Roundabout, but there's also various other places (and not just Oxford, Cambridge eg Bristol). Its probably a 10 year plan, but it is helped by Melb & Syd getting more and more congested and expensive over time. According to today's AFR, it is really hard to attract people from Silicon Valley to Australia. It is probably not so hard to get Sydney-siders to move to eg Byron Bay!
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
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Sorry Glenn but that is just wrong. While Silicon Valley has created a 'model', innovation is not dependent on density, but rather a mental attitude where problem solving, and risk and failure are all supported in day to day business and community attitudes. You should see some of the things that get done in small engineering firms supporting agriculture and mining in towns you may not even know the names of and whose populations are less than that of a large Sydney suburb. Innovation is not all software and apps for smart phones. There is a huge creative and highly skilled population outside of Australia's capital cities that contribute an enormous amount to the national GDP and have to solve problems quickly and efficiently and cost effectively and deserve to get some of the support for innovation that to them, may seem to be lavished on inner city residents who do not understand or experience the practical challenges faced every day in non-urban Australia.
MIchael McCann · 2 years ago
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Sorry Glenn but that is just wrong. While Silicon Valley has created a 'model', innovation is not dependent on density, but rather a mental attitude where problem solving, and risk and failure are all supported in day to day business and community attitudes. You should see some of the things that get done in small engineering firms supporting agriculture and mining in towns you may not even know the names of and whose populations are less than that of a large Sydney suburb. Innovation is not all software and apps for smart phones. There is a huge creative and highly skilled population outside of Australia's capital cities that contribute an enormous amount to the national GDP and have to solve problems quickly and efficiently and cost effectively and deserve to get some of the support for innovation that to them, may seem to be lavished on inner city residents who do not understand or experience the practical challenges faced every day in non-urban Australia.
MIchael McCann · 2 years ago
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If the objective is innovation rather then regional, then this proposal is a bad idea. Innovation is much more likely in a hub like Silicon Valley and certain parts of Sydney's North Shore and North West where there is a pool of suitable skills and sufficient density of innovators and wannabes for then to interact with each other.
Glenn Phillips · 2 years ago
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I'd rather see concentration of talent in higher density areas. This may be apocryphal, but there's many attributions of silicon valley's success to the co-location of lots of different technology companies, people being able to talk about things they're working on, knocking heads together, coming up with new ideas. At least in theory, the more people you have together working on hard problems, the more they'll share and support each other. Rather than making it attractive to build in regional areas (I'm not sure there's sufficient demand), I'd suggest making it easy for regional entrepreneurs to get to major city technology hubs, stay here cheaply, connect with each other while they're here - and return home if they want, without feeling like they're at a major disadvantage for being rural.
Andy White · 2 years ago
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Honestly the only places I can see this working are Wollongong, Newcastle and Geelong - which are all within "commuting" distance of major cities. Why would a startup move to a regional centre like Wagga, Albury or Shepparton? There are no customers there. No investors there. No skilled employees there. Sure, land is cheaper - but that's pretty marginal considering all the disadvantages. Let's face it, moving a startup to a regional area is suicidal. I agree that we should be trying to move industries out of Sydney and Melbourne. I think that Wollongong would be an ideal spot to build Australia's silicon valley (if there is ever political will for massive, sustained, top-down government led investment in technology in a small geographic area). UoW puts out a lot of computer science graduates. It's within commuting distance of Sydney. There's already a town with stuff to do and property is much cheaper, so workers wouldn't be losing a whole lot if they relocated from a capital city. And with the steelworks etc there is an abundance of mechanical engineering/manufacturing talent that might be able to transition from a declining indutry (steelmaking) into a sunrise industry (robotics, 3D printing, Internet of Things etc)
Ryan Wardell · 2 years ago
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I don't think "no customers, no investors" is a problem really; investors in capital cities are close enough, and regarding customers, on the Internet nobody knows you're a rural :-) But the lack of skilled employees is a much bigger problem. Hence the need to build a critical mass of talent in a few select locations (scroll to the bottom to see that suggestion). Yeah, towns with a uni campus have a head start. But going out on a limb a bit, a tree change might also be more attractive to older (30+?) people, for whom high house prices in Sydney etc acts as a stick (wanting a house big enough for a family, vs renting a small apartment or share-house). Then you have the "Berlin problem", where the cost of living is low and life is too comfortable, so there is no pressure on the start-up to quickly create a viable business model :-o
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
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What are the implications of building up regional areas in the short and long term? Can we afford to do this? Should focus be mainly on urban areas instead?
Marcus Newton · 2 years ago
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I'm not suggesting we should urbanise farmland/uncleared land, but rather, "sow a seed" in existing regional centres, many of which are experiencing depopulation (and so have a surplus of buildings). So yes, regional urban areas :-) Whilst not big enough to be called a city, Nagambie (in Vic) is a good example. Since the freeway bypass went in, the main street's food shops have suffered. But its on the Shepparton train line (close to Melbs), and has a lake - great if you are a rower - and forest nearby.
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
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I'm not a rower but I like lakes and forests.
Dave Jackson · 2 years ago
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Regarding rail links, see http://oursay.org/community/policyhack/the-interior-needs-rail-links
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
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Regarding farming in particular, see http://oursay.org/community/policyhack/i-believe-that-the-link-between-innovation-and-agriculture-is-the-way-to-ensure-global-food-security
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
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See also http://oursay.org/community/policyhack/when-most-people-think-of-startups-they-think-of-silicon-valley-or-maybe-an-inner-city-incubator-in-a-capital-city#comment-23085
Jason Harrop · 2 years ago
People who voted for this idea
Samuel MacAulay David Howard Mark Ah Christine Ewin Dean  Collins Nick Edwards Stevie Glaveski bruno mattarollo Ray Bell MIchael McCann Louise Schaper Justin McMurray Vitanya Rattanasuvansri James Riley Adam Hyland Nigel Adams Ken Seidenman Dave Hall Jacob Irvine James Farley Chris Joannou Kathy Kofinas Lauren Battaglia Allan Briggs Dave Jackson