Innovation is the creation and application of new ideas into products and services that benefit an industry, organisation, nation or society. The importance of innovation is well recognised by rural people, particularly in the areas of agriculture, education and healthcare. The Australian Government recognised its importance with its Review of the National Innovation System (2008).
Dr Philip Thomas from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, in collaboration with other UNE staff and Industry and Investment NSW, is driving UNE’s research on innovation and adoption. Through the Primary Industries Innovation Centre (PIIC), Professor Bob Martin has been active in fostering this research agenda, which has also benefited from the support of the Sheep CRC. A related health innovations theme is being led by Professor Steven Campbell from the School of Health.
The focus of the research team is on strengthening UNE’s innovation research capabilities by establishing strategic collaborations. The approach is to:
- create strong connections with the private sector and public and higher education institutions;
- coordinate UNE’s capacity to service the need for achieving innovation; and
- reduce the fragmentation that inhibits rural innovation-to-adoption research and practice.
The research involves:
- identification and application of cutting-edge research tools to assist in creating innovation;
- identification and use of advanced translation strategies to support adoption; and
- improvement in organisational processes, to ensure receptivity to innovation.
Dr Thomas recently co-presented a paper with Dr David Evans (Atlatl Management P/L) at the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network 5th International Conference entitled ‘Intentional Innovation Communities; Fast-Tracking Radical Improvement of Australia’s Innovation Performance’. This paper explained the concept of an Intentional Innovation Community (IIC) and outlined a proposal for a demonstration project in a rural / regional setting in Australia.
With the support of Bob Martin, planning for pilots is proceeding with Industry & Investment NSW, an agricultural interest group in Tamworth, PIIC and the NSW Farmers Association. Discussions are also underway for the involvement of other interested parties including Nuffield Scholars. It is expected the pilots will commence in early-mid 2010.
In July 2010, Dr Thomas will be chairing a meeting for CEO’s of Cooperative Research Centres on Innovation and Adoption at the Australian Society of Animal Production Biennial Conference, to be held at UNE. So far 5 CRC CEO’s have indicated their intention to participate in what will prove to be a lively and engaging session.
For more information contact the researcher, Dr Philip Thomas: email@example.com