In This Issue:
Welcome From The Chair
Dear Northern Inlanders,
We have a jam-packed newsletter this month with a lot happening around the region. Congratulations firstly to all of our finalists in the Northern Inland Innovation Awards held on November 8th in Tamworth and especially to our overall winner, ICT International of Armidale.
Harnessing the digital economy is also a focus of ours with the release of the Northern Inland Digital Economy Strategy for Business which shows us that we could potentially reap $1.3 billion for the local economy if we innovate online. We look forward to starting some exciting new projects in this space in 2014.
As this will be our final newsletter for 2013, may I take the opportunity to wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
All the best,
Mal Peters, Chair
Online Opportunities & Challenges Unveiled in New Report
The Northern Inland region could gain an extra $1.3 billion per year if we capture the full benefits of the Digital Economy, with a 7% to 12% increase in our Gross Domestic Regional Product possible, according to a report recently released by Regional Development Australia Northern inland (RDANI).
“The Northern Inland Digital Economy Strategy for Business” looks at how local businesses and communities in Northern Inland NSW can best take advantage of high-speed broadband and online ‘know-how’ to grow the regional economy. The report examines the huge potential gains to be made by embracing the digital economy within the region and presents a number of recommendations that RDANI, Local Councils and local businesses can do to grow our online opportunities.
According to RDANI Chairman Mal Peters, all towns with existing technologies are able to make this happen but only if we employ some of the clever thinking that has been outlined in the Digital Economy Strategy. “We are already seeing a massive impact on our retail sector with the uptake of online shopping. So this report looks at ways that local businesses can be empowered and prepared for change in this arena to ensure they maximize their own benefits,” said RDANI Chair, Mal Peters.
The report outlines that 86% of businesses in the region currently do not sell online in any capacity, with around a third of those saying that lack of expertise, information and training are the biggest barriers to overcome. “Given that the national figures for online retailing show that even 40% of over 65 year olds are buying online and that the preference is for Australian-based sites, local businesses need to see the internet as a way to compete nationally as well as locally,” Mr Peters said.
As well as providing a ‘Ten Digital Next Steps for Small Businesses’ checklist, some of the key recommendations to come out of the report include the need to establish an Online Economy Taskforce with representation from the 13 LGAs, the need to expand training to get more businesses online, attracting private sector investment, providing the tools to local businesses to be able to compete online, leveraging off the NBN rollout in Armidale and establishing more wireless precincts throughout the region.
“World’s best-practice shows that regions that can innovate and are technologically ready for what the future holds are most likely to experience continued economic growth. We want to assist local businesses to expand into new markets and the digital economy can offer us limitless opportunities to do that,” Mr Peters concluded.
The Northern Inland Digital Economy Strategy can be downloaded at www.rdani.org.au/projects/digital-economy-strategy.php.
Funding for the project was made available by the Australian Government.
ICT International wins 2013 Northern Inland Innovation Awards
The 6th Regional Development Australia Northern Inland Innovation gala awards dinner was held at Wests Leagues Club in Tamworth on Friday night (8/11/13). The overall Innovation of the Year Award went to Armidale-based ICT International, which included a $15,000 scholarship from The Sharemarket College.
"It is important that we recognise and promote how we are being innovative and what sets us apart. This fantastic awards program attracted 49 top quality entries from every major centre in the region and almost 140 people attended the awards night," RDANI Chair Mal Peters said.
ICT International is essentially scientists creating precision equipment for fellow scientists; technological solutions for soil, plant, water and environmental monitoring. R&D investment has transformed the business from an importer of soil and plant instrumentation to an exporter of its own. What has been developed by ICT is unique and demand is global, with exports to 45 countries each year. Staffing levels have grown from 6 to 21 in the past four years.
Local produce was presented to sponsors and MC, Jennifer Ingall (ABC radio New England North West Regional Content Manager). There was a presentation by the inspiring BackTrack Youthworks lads and a pair of working dogs in training. Guest Speakers were business coach, Greg Alder and 2012 Innovation of the Year recipient, Graham East from educational software developer, EdAlive. There were displays of the finalist innovators and the opportunity for regional networking.
The AgriFood Skills Australia 'Agriculture / Horticulture and Associated Services category' winner was ICT International, of Armidale. Finalists were Paradise Fresh, of Tamworth and ITC Agriculture, of Narrabri.
The Telstra Country Wide 'Tourism / Leisure and Related Services Category' winner was Petersons Armidale Guesthouse & Winery. Petersons was already unique to the Armidale area, when it invested in the creation of a live concert venue, attracting top artists and thousands of visitors. The first "A Day on the Green" event in the region in March 2012 attracted 6,500 people from near and far, with over 7,000 attending in March this year. Finalists were the New England Regional Art Museum and Tamworth Regional Council's Business & Events Directorate.
The Sharemarket College Brisbane 'Professional and Retail Services Category' winner was Liverpool Plains Shire Council - for the Tr@ceR mobile App. The Liverpool Plains Shire Council's Tr@ceR mobile App and mobile mapping program increase efficiencies in the war on weeds. I.T. and weeds staff created income generating technology, in meeting in-house needs. Finalists were Kylie Mitchell Designs, of Armidale and the Moree Plains Shire Council’s Communications Department.
The AusIndustry-Enterprise Connect 'Manufacturing and Engineering Category' winner was StarLogixs, of Deepwater. An electronic innovator, StarLogixs designed a devise to ensure voltage consistency for remote Telstra NextG units. Addressing this technological challenge was a win for rural telecommunications and the business. Finalists were Andromeda Industries, of Moonbi and Bindaree Beef, of Inverell.
The UNE Partnerships 'Research and Education Category' winner was BackTrack Youthworks - Jobs Australia Enterprises Ltd. Since it began in Armidale in 2006, BackTrack has delivered a range of innovative programs aimed at helping troubled youth to focus their lives, re-connect with education or training and get work-ready. It has now been adapted to communities around the region. Finalists were UNE Computer Science (for 'Smart Eye') and UNE/TAFE New England Institute, for duel sector "Integrated Degrees".
Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall presented six Highly Commended Awards to: Tamworth Community College; the Quirindi Rural Heritage Village; McInnes Clothing Co from Narrabri; Spend in Glen; the Uralla Rivercare Group, for the Uralla Creeklands Walk and Ewe Beaut Products, of Armidale.
Extra incentives to Come On Inland
SYDNEY-SIDERS planning a tree-change to Northern Inland NSW will be eligible for cash incentives of up to $17,000 thanks to changes to the NSW Government’s Regional Relocation Grant Scheme.
Member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, said recent amendments mean that Sydney-siders who buy a home in the region would receive a $7,000 grant as long as they own a home or have two consecutive years of rental history in Sydney.
“Previously the grant was only payable after they had sold a Sydney home and bought another in rural and regional NSW,” he said. “The changes come alongside the introduction of the skilled regional relocation incentive of $10,000 for employees that hold a skilled job for a minimum of two years.
”The tweaked incentive scheme adds currency weight to the innovative efforts of the RDA Northern Inland “Come on Inland” campaign and the Evocities collaboration.
Nundle is State’s Tidiest Town
Recognised for its rich history, spirit and a community that breathes sustainability, Nundle is the winner of the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Tidy Towns - Sustainable Communities Overall State Award for 2013. The Awards were presented at the New England Regional Art Museum, in the 2012 Overall Award winning Cathedral City of Armidale, on 2 November.
Nundle initially took out the 350 and under population category. Other category winners were: Jerilderie, Gloucester, Toronto, Singleton and Maitland. Murrurundi earned a second place.
CEO of Keep Australia Beautiful, David Imrie, listed some of what makes Nundle a winner:
Nundle recorded over 23,595 documented volunteer hours over the past 12 months.
Nundle is host to a number of unique annual events including the Go for Gold Chinese Festival (18,000 visitors), the Great Nundle Dog Race (1,000 visitors), Gourmet Picnic and Art Show, Le Tour Do Rocque, among others, like the 2013 Enviro-Camp at Chaffey Dam
Nundle student programs monitor and improve river health.
The Nundle RSL Sub-branch Bursary was established in 1961to help children attending schools in the area to achieve their potential.
The Nundle Riverside Walk and the Upper Peel Landcare Group jointly encourage stronger interest in conservation by promoting; health, fitness, education, flora & fauna, establishment of wildlife corridors and improvement in tourism.
Nundle will now vie for the title of National Overall Tidy Town at the Keep Australia Beautiful National Awards in 2014.
State Recognition for Glasshouse Godfrey of Guyra
Congratulations and best wishes to Godfrey Dol, who is one of three 2013 Farmer of the Year finalists. Mr Dol is the Technical and Business Development Manager at Costa's 20 hectare glasshouse enterprise at Guyra which produces 12 million kilograms of tomatoes annually.As technical manager, Godfrey plays a key role in achieving record yields through climate and water management, varietal selection, pest and disease management, biosecurity, water efficiency and carbon emission improvements.
Water use efficiency at the facility is world leading with only 12.5 litres of irrigation water used to produce 1kg of tomatoes compared to 100-200 litres per kilo of field tomatoes.
Mr Dol has 30 years' experience managing successful glasshouse operations in the Middle East, North America as well as Australia.
Since inception, he has had positive technical impacts across many facets of the tomato farm operation at Guyra, which continues to grow as significant economic contributor to the region.
The greenhouse facility now employs 300 people and is a welcome business in Guyra after the abattoir closed down in 1994. When the first stage of the glasshouse was built in 2005, it rekindled local economic confidence. 2012-13 saw upwards of $15mil in wages flow into the economy.
The Award is a joint initiative of NSW Farmers and the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The Farmer of the Year, to be announced on December 3 at NSW Parliament House, wins a cash prize of $10,000 and the runners-up receive a $2000 prize.
Rural Workforce Issues Discussed
The University of New England hosted a practical and productive “Agriculture Workforce of the Future Forum” at the Crossing Theatre, Narrabri, on Monday, 25 November. RDANI Chair Mal Peters facilitated the agricultural and tertiary education sector representatives in a Q&A industry forum.
Panel members included:
Matt Koval - First Assistant Secretary, Federal Department of Agriculture
Bruce Pyke - R&D Manager, Cotton Research and Development Corporation
Kathleen Allan - Program Manager, Grains Research and Development Corporation
Lu Hogan - Industry Training, Sheep CRC
Prof David Lamb, Leader, Precision Agriculture Research Group, UNE
Prof Iain Young - President, Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture
The forum was also an opportunity to hear about UNE’s new hands-on vocational courses; the Bachelor of Agrifood Systems and the Associate Degree in Agrifood Systems, which are among the UNE/TAFE integrated degrees recognised by the 2013 Northern Inland Innovation Awards.
Australia Day 2014 – Nominate a Local Star
Nominations for civic Australia Day honours are still open in the 13 local government areas of the Northern Inland region. There are a raft of award categories in each council’s award program from Citizen of the Year to Junior Sports Person of the Year. If you know of somebody who should be recognised by your community, contact your local council and make it happen.
What's On In The Northern Inland
Northern Inland 4x4, Fishing, Caravan and Camping Expo
Saturday 30th of November to Sunday 1st of December
One of the largest events of its kind the region. It represents a great pre-Christmas browse and spend opportunity for those who love the great out-doors and work for their weekends. Further information: www.facebook.com/northerninlandexpo
Alive and Local Family Day
1st Sunday of every month
With regional produce, buffalo and baby farm animals, this free event is an experience. Home grown food and wine is in abundance at Kitty Crawford Estate. The historic and serenely rural atmosphere of the venue ensures troubles are forgotten. Further details are available on their Facebook page here.
2013 Great Inland Fishing Festival
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th of December
The 2013 Great Inland Fishing Festival will again be held at Copeton Dam. Now in its 15th year The Great Inland Fishing Festival continues to promote sustainable fishing with its Catch & Release format. The Festival offers great cash prizes for the Great Inland Fishing Champion & Runner-Up along with Daily prizes for each species. Further details are available at: www.inlandfishingfestival.com
Shakespeare and Jazz at Nowendoc
Saturday 7th of December
“As You Like” is a romantic comedy with all the right ingredients: political intrigue, romance, mistaken identity, witty word play, cross dressing, music and song. Presented by Sydney’s acclaimed outdoor theatre company “Shakespeare on the Green” Supported by Melbourne’s fabulous jazz aficionados “Tin Men Trio”
The Walcha Shire Council’s tourism website has further details here.
Small Biz Bus
Local small businesses can take advantage of high quality business assistance with the arrival of the Small Biz Bus. The Bus will be visiting parts of our region, giving local small businesses operators the chance to get personalised advice from business experts free of charge.
The Bus will be at:
Tenterfield - Tuesday 10 December, Rouse St (in front of Bruxner Park), 9am to 3pm.
Armidale - Wednesday 11 December, The Mall, 9am to 3pm.
Bingara - Thursday 12 December, Cunningham St (adjacent to the Roxy), 10am to 2pm.
Narrabri - Friday 13 December, 104-106 Maitland St, 9am to 3pm.
To book an appointment on the Bus or to speak to your local Small Biz Connect adviser, call New England North West BEC on 1300 134 359 or visit www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/hop-on-the-small-biz-bus.
Get into the Christmas and community spirit with events being held across the region in December. Details for some areas were unavailable at the time of this newsletter, so be sure to contact your local visitor information centre or council for details if your area is not listed below.
Bundarra - 11th of December
Boggabri - 13th of December
Armidale - 14th of December
Wallabadah - 17th of December
Warrah Creek - 22nd of December
Gunnedah - 6th of December
Bundarra - 7th of December
Danthonia Community - 8th of December
Uralla - 10th of December
Armidale - 11th of December
Barraba – 15th of December
Boggabri - 15th of December
Willow Tree - 20th of December
Tamworth - 21st December
New Grants and Funding Opportunities
There are three funding elements to Innovate NSW:
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grants provide matched funding up to $15,000 to assist technology SMEs to engage with a potential business customer to demonstrate an idea, prove a concept, develop a prototype or customise a B2B solution that addresses a high growth opportunity or challenge for a key sector.
TechVouchers (TV) grants provide up to $15,000 in matched funding for technology SMEs to collaborate with a NSW research organisation to overcome a specific technical challenge or test a new technology. As with the MVP grant, the technology should address a high growth opportunity or challenge for a potential business customer in a key market sector (as detailed above).
Collaborative Solutions (CS) provides grants of up to 25% of project costs (to a maximum of $100,000), for consortia to develop an innovative solution that addresses a high growth opportunity or challenge in a key sector (as noted above). The consortia must include three entities: a technology SME with the ability to develop and commercialise the solution (Lead Company), a pilot business customer in a key sector that is willing to test the solution (Pilot Organisation), and at least one partner company that will provide additional technology, research capabilities, or assistance to scale the solution. Note: the Pilot Organisation is not committed to purchase the product, but to guide the product development.
While the Key Requirements for each program element varies, all applications are competitively assessed against the following criteria:
• Innovative Use of Enabling Technologies
• Strength of the Business Model
• Industry Sector Benefits
• Economic Benefits to NSW
For more information and application guidelines, please visit:
RAS Foundation Community Futures Grants
Applications close 13 January, 2014.
The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation is giving young people who live in rural and regional NSW the chance to secure up to $25,000 to deliver a new and innovative community project.
RAS Foundation Community Futures Grants can be for smaller projects, such as the upgrading of a roof of a small community hall that would be utilised by multiple community groups, as well as projects that require up to $25,000.
RAS Foundation Executive Officer, Jocellin Jansson is encouraging young people living in rural and regional NSW to think about how they could make a significant difference to their community. “Each year I am inspired by the generosity and spirit that exists within rural and regional communities,” she said.
Applications for the Community Futures Grant will be judged on several criteria including innovation, impact on the community and plans for implementation. They must identify an existing community organisation or group to partner with to deliver their project. Eligible entrants must be 35 years or under on 1 May, 2014 and projects must be located in rural or regional NSW.
Interested applicants can visit www.rasnsw.com.au/programs to find out more and to complete the online application form.
Further informaiton on grants and funding opportunities are available in the Grants and Funding Opportunities area of the RDA-NI website.