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Australia – The Lucky Country! But are we the Clever Country?

Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw PHD - Thursday, June 21, 2012
Australia-and-Asia_resized

Australia has long and often been referred to as the Lucky Country. And for good reason. We have a great standard of living, abundant natural resources and we live peacefully in a multicultural society.

And now our latest stroke of luck is to be located right next to ‘growth central’, that is, we are next door to the fastest developing economies in the world. While Europe and America languish in economic woes, our neighbours, ASEAN, China, India have growth rates ranging from 6 % - 8% in comparison with Eurozone’s 1%.

So why is our productivity lagging? Why is Australia slipping lower and lower on the World Economic Forum ranking on global competitiveness? It is because our ‘business models lack sophistication’. That was one of the main reasons provided by the World Economic Forum as to why we ranked low on innovation. So instead of trying to compete with our neighbours at the commodity end of the market we need a new way of thinking about how we take advantage of our lucky positioning. We should be using our great creative thinking and problem solving skills gained from an excellent education system to position ourselves away from the commodity end of the market and be coming up with innovative ways to partner with and collaborate with rather than directly competing with, our Asian neighbours. We can be so much more than Asia’s quarry and paddock. Our industries have barely begun to tap into the opportunities afforded by a burgeoning Asian middle class on our doorstep.

Our forte should be to capitalise and build on our reputation for producing quality products and produce innovative products that have been designed and targeted to meet the needs and preferences of particular niches. If we’re talking Asia, even a small niche can be a huge market. That would be the clever thing to do.

In September I will be holding workshops in Darwin and Perth called “Innovating to Compete in a Global Economy”. Among other things, we will certainly be discussing how to evolve more sophisticated business models. These workshops are being funded by Enterprise Connect so are free to attendees. Register here if you can join us http://www.innovationedge.com.au/events

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