Whether you’re a business owner or employee, I’m sure you’ll agree the pace of change, powered by new and emerging technologies, has never been so great, nor so disruptive.
In order to not only survive, but thrive over the longer term, Hunter businesses will need to transform themselves and re-imagine their future in a constant and never ending cycle of change.
Late last year, Malcom Turnbull released an innovation statement where he explained that the Australian economy is transitioning away from the mining boom. In it, he argued that future growth will depend on a very different kind of boom - an ideas boom. Thanks to the mining boom, the Hunter has experienced economic growth for two decades, but this will soon come to an end as the record commodity prices are receding. Mr Turnbull emphasised that the key for future success, competitiveness and productivity for Australia and indeed the Hunter will be innovation.
The Hunter is right on board and many organisations and leaders have begun to embrace this change and ride a new wave that could herald future growth for the region. RDA Hunter is banking on a “smart specialisation” strategy, the Hunter Research Foundation have been conducting forums on digital innovation and the future of Hunter Professional Services, HMRI have been engaged in nano-pharmaceutics research and Eighteen 04, a co-working space for clean tech, Smart Cities startups at CSIRO’s Energy Centre was launched last week. If there’s an ideas wave to catch it seems the Hunter is paddling fast.
According to Mr Turnbull, the purpose of the innovation package is to:
- help innovative businesses access capital
- help businesses commercialise great ideas
- promote innovation across government
- equip young Australians with the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy
In addition, the Australian government will invest $51 million to help schoolchildren learn coding and teachers learn additional skills. Futurists predict that 500,000 Australian jobs will be made redundant as they will be replaced by machines over the next decade. Therefore it may actually be more important in the future for children to not just learn to code but also to learn to think like a computer so they can instruct, develop and further improve the artificial intelligence, computers and robots that are likely to dominate in our future world.
The opportunity and point of difference as I see it in the future will be our humanness and our ability to deliver high touch service in a high tech environment. Critical thinking, an ability to ask smart questions, be flexible and adaptive and apply wisdom are all things computers won’t do as well and will all be vital skills from today.
Building a company in the future will not be about buildings and physical assets, it will be about connectivity, networks and data and collaboration and communication. It won’t be about best practice, it will be about ‘next practice’. I'm excited to see what the impact of this innovation package will have on the Australian education system, the startup scene, future innovations and humans and workplaces. My hope is that these efforts will foster a supportive, collaborative, value-driven environment here in the Hunter, if the recent events are anything to go by locally, we’re on the right track.