Australian Government Uses Hunter S3 as International Case Study

The Australian Government will share a case study about the Hunter region and its Smart Specialisation Strategy at an international OECD conference being held in Chile in October

Representatives from the Federal Government will be attending a Mining in the Regions Conference hosted by the OECD in Antofagasta, Chile in October. A case study about the Hunter region and its Smart Specialisation Strategy for the Hunter Region will be shared by the Government as part of the ideas exchange.

RDA Hunter’s Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) is a regional plan for innovation-driven industry growth. It establishes an agenda for economic transformation in the Hunter region by analysing and defining regional competencies and determining new areas of opportunity and competitive strength so that resources can be effectively channelled.

These seven sectors were identified in the Strategy as the Hunter’s competitive strengths:
1. Food and agri-business
2. Mining equipment, technology and services
3. Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals
4. Oil, gas and energy resources
5. Advanced manufacturing
6. Defence
7. Creative Industries

The Hunter’s agri-food industry was identified as a regional competitive strength. RDA Hunter classifies it as a priority sector for innovation-driven growth and diversification and is working with stakeholders in the Upper Hunter to achieve this - with a focus on exports.
The enabling infrastructure priorities to support the growth of agri-food are: the development of value-add processing capabilities and the cold chain which will enable the packaging and handling of raw and processed food for export from the region.

The Smart Specialisation Strategy for the Hunter Region is receiving valuable buy-in across academia, industry and government and the following has been undertaken to progress it:
Industry/Research Collaboration
• The University of Newcastle has taken a lead role in securing the region’s innovation network through its I2N project
• It was successful in gaining government support and funding for the establishment of innovation hubs in geographically diverse areas across the region
• These hubs are the bedrock of a well-functioning innovation network

Up-Skilling the Region via the ME Program, RDA Hunter’s Workforce skilling initiative
• The ME Program is RDA Hunter’s industry led, life-stage driven, collaborative program providing employment pathways for Hunter school students
• The Program is being extended in response to Australia falling behind in the OECD rankings for STEM based skills. Extension includes piloting primary, girls and indigenous programs, as well as improving linkages with VET and University programs
• STEM skills are now considered a basic level of attainment for knowledge-based economies such as Australia and are required across the majority of industry sectors
• RDA Hunter is developing a targeted roll-out of the ME Program concept across multiple sectors in the region to seed industry growth and diversification, including agri-food

• In September 2016, RDA Hunter was invited to present its Smart Specialisation Strategy for the Hunter at the international Triple Helix Conference in Heidelberg, Germany. The Hunter gained recognition for ‘taking control of its own destiny’ while RDA Hunter won the Conference’s Best Paper Award 2016
• In September 2016, the Hunter region was highlighted by the Federal Government as an exemplar of a region ‘in control of its own destiny’ during its presentation on Smart Specialisation in Australia at the Changing Patterns of Territorial Policy: Smart Specialisation and Innovation in Europe Conference held in Seville, Spain
• In July 2017, The Hon John Barilaro MP, NSW Minister for Regional Development attended Regional Competitive Advantage – An RDA Hunter Smart Specialisation Event in Gloucester. The event showcased innovative Gloucester-based companies that are undergoing growth and change including Drifta, Leveltec, Drury Farm and Robotic Systems
• Several case studies promoting innovative Hunter companies within the seven sectors of competitive strength were written and distributed during 2016/17. Companies featured included Interbike, CSIRO Energy, Lumo Solutions, and Fluffy Cloud Media

• Developed a masterplan for innovation-driven regional economic growth
• Encouraged innovation-driven growth in traditional industries to transition to ‘new’ digitally and automated enabled industries
• Attracted national and international attention for the Hunter region for controlling its own destiny; its ability to work together to produce a strategy based on strengths and for having the foresight to develop a plan which underpins innovation driven growth
• Inspired Hunter organisations to implement innovation focused initiatives (including) the University of Newcastle’s I2N project and Newcastle City Council’s Innovation Incubator Project
• Developing region-specific venture capital funding to accelerate industry-research commercialisation and productivity initiatives, in collaboration with the University of Newcastle
• Continuing to work with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to build greater economic ties with the OECD and other European economic development jurisdictions, to provide ongoing partnerships in research, business, government and community, to develop access to global paths to market for exporting businesses in the Hunter and to continue to develop and communicate the performance management framework for the S3 strategy