Regional Australians have always been the jack of all trades – now they’re becoming the masters

By Mitch Hunt

There’s a refreshing change occurring in regional Australia. Communities are coming to realise the opportunities provided by our transitioning economy and our innovative nature as they work towards securing their economic future.

Innovation has always been a part of regional Australia. From the beginning, those in the country have had to think laterally to overcome everyday challenges and engineer their survival and prosperity in some of the world’s most trying environments.

Fast forward to today and it’s clear that the push for innovation in the era of the ideas boom hasn’t been lost on our regional entrepreneurs. They have inherited generations of diverse skills and a focus on achieving results.

And, with the transition of the Australian economy and proliferation of technology unlocking innovation outside of our capital cities, we need to realise the potential and look to regional Australia for more than soft commodities and mined resources.

It’s an insight shared by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) in their recent [In]Sight paper, Spreading the Ideas Boom. The RAI found that while innovation is still stronger in our capital cities, regional Australia is punching above its weight with regional areas making up a quarter of the top 100 innovative local government areas (LGAs).

What’s driving our regional innovators is just as interesting. The RAI suggests that while having access to traditional R&D institutions like universities is an advantage, many innovators are placing a greater reliance on digital technology to bring their products and services to life.

Similarly, RAI found that those regional areas that had a strong ecosystem for innovators and entrepreneurs were better placed to see economic outcomes. Suggesting that speed to market is key and that by surrounding themselves with knowledge based services like accounting, design and legal counsel, entrepreneurs are provided with a solid platform – regardless of their proximity to a capital city.

The RAI’s research is a great reminder not to underestimate the progressive thinking and potential of regional Australia. The stigma and stereotypes of being behind the times is disappearing – replaced by world-leading innovative Australians that are the masters of their own economic destinies.

In a typical country way, this story has probably been all too understated, but it’s something that should be shared and celebrated.
I get a huge kick out of seeing and hearing about the innovation and entrepreneurialism in regional Australia and we’re lucky enough to have a front row seat with our day-to-day work. Across the country we’re seeing businesses and communities evolve and prosper with new, non-traditional industries and skills added to their economies – driving and diversifying local workforces that are creating more opportunities than ever.