To get to the next level, businesses need to think about the short and long game. Given the opportunities in Greater Western Sydney at the moment, businesses can get some quick wins in the short term (through collaboration and incremental innovation) while developing plans for the long term.
Innovation has a long and a short game. There are disruptive and incremental innovations. Often the disruptive innovations are the exciting ones, forever changing or reinventing industries. However they are usually the most difficult ones that take a lot of time and money.
The challenge between short term financial results and long term investment and growth is real. The PwC 2016 CEO survey showed that while 86% of Australian CEOs believe technological advances will be the top trend to transform stakeholder expectations in the next five years, only 24% believe R&D and innovation generate a solid return by engaging stakeholders.
Importantly, innovation is about more than scientific and technological breakthroughs, it includes those things that create significant positive changes (such as improving operational or customer outcomes).
Organisations in Greater Western Sydney should consider incremental innovation to be the base line expectation rather than the exception. Great examples of incremental innovation happening in Greater Western Sydney include a small family business, JH Tester Industrial Automation, who manufacture a variety of control systems for industry where they are making continuous improvements to their turnkey solutions to ensure clients have the highest precision for their printing requirements.
Another company, AcronAir, is using incremental innovation to make improvements to its world-class range of air conditioning solutions.
Recent developments are setting up the opportunity for both short term wins and longer term transformation.
Parramatta is also host to Australia’s largest concentration of health, education and research facilities at Westmead with four hospitals, two universities, two large research institutes and many allied health centres. The redevelopment and expansion of Western Sydney University is a key part of this.
Collaboration between businesses, universities and government bodies in Western Sydney will provide significant opportunities for innovation and growth in 2017.
Greater Western Sydney is a home to more than 10 per cent of Australia’s population, has the fastest growing population and is the fifth largest region in Australia in terms of its national economy contribution.
Research has shown that collaboration helps promotion innovation, which will lead to productivity improvement, economic growth and job creation. It can take the form of joint ventures, partnerships and less formal sharing of information and working together.
Collaboration provides businesses with access to the latest information, technology, research, expertise and knowledge leading to the development of high-value, globally competitive products and services.
Importantly, Western Sydney is rapidly transforming into a global innovation, technology and employment hub. This has seen PwC project that Parramatta’s economic growth will be double from 2.4 to 4.6 per cent annually over the next four years.
A study by The Australian Industry Group, published in September 2016, found that the barriers of collaborative innovation in Australia included institutional and culture barriers across both private and public sectors focusing on the short termism, lack of transparency in terms of information sharing, inadequate incentives for collaborations between researchers and universities, lack of labour mobility and intellectual property arrangements.
Western Sydney is well placed to overcome these barriers. Projects such as One Parramatta Square bring together the private and public sector in one place, to enhance collaboration though information and knowledge sharing in a shared environment.
Whether disruptive or incremental, innovation will be crucial for organisations in 2017. It must focus not only on science and technology, but also on collaboration that can improve business process and help respond to customer insights.
As Marc Jacobs says: “Innovation is an evolutionary process, so it's not necessary to be radical all the time.”
If you are a startup or company based in Greater Western Sydney and are looking for ways to collaborate, PwC will shortly be launching a program called Accelerate to help connect you with the right organisations to help you innovate and grow.
PwC is opening its new office at One Parramatta Square in partnership with Western Sydney University in 2017. Aaron LePoidevin is a Partner at PwC Australia. He helps organisations fund their innovation and growth.