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Seeking innovative Tamworth region businesses

Bellata Gold CEO, Doug Cush, Mill & Pasta Production Manager, Jennifer Faint and RDANI Senior Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings discuss innovation in the Tamworth Pasta Factory.
Bellata Gold CEO, Doug Cush, Mill & Pasta Production Manager, Jennifer Faint and RDANI Senior Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings discuss innovation in the Tamworth Pasta Factory.

The 2011 Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) Innovation Awards deadline for entries is fast approaching. Business or public sector organisation representatives are being urged to put their hand up for recognition at a regional level.

The founder and CEO of Bellata Gold, Doug Cush has called on business operators in the Tamworth region to think about the ways in which they are innovative in their business and enter the Innovation Awards. "It doesn't really matter what you are doing, you need to keep thinking and acting outside the square in business," he said.
Mr Cush and his team have built a unique-to-Australia paddock to pasta plate operation from ground up.

Premium durum grain is grown on family properties near Bellata. It is milled, made into pasta and packaged in Tamworth. This innovative operation means 100 percent traceability and guaranteed quality assurance, which gives Bellata Gold the edge in many export markets around the world.

"Constantly striving to be innovative is the only way that we've been able to improve the commercial prospects of the business, despite the export constraints due to the GFC," Mr Cush said. "We developed a new product range, "Yatta" in 2009, to expand our market. Late last year, we infused modern technological approaches into a traditional Italian style pasta factory - that computerisation has enhanced efficiency and consistency. This year, we've been investing into new technology to streamline our packaging process."

"We've been honoured with a number of major awards over the past decade and they are satisfying; they do add credibility to your product or service and they vindicate or validate your efforts," Mr Cush said.

"If you have pride in what your business or organisation is doing and (particularly) in how it is doing things differently, then now is the time to self-nominate and make the rest of the region proud of its progressive, innovative and dedicated business operators," RDANI Senior Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings said. "Our region's businesses are closely linked to their local communities. Yet, their innovative spirit and community contributions are under-recognised. The Northern Inland Innovation Awards provide that recognition and promotion."

Entries are being sought from throughout the Armidale Dumaresq, Glen Innes Severn, Gunnedah, Guyra, Gwydir, Inverell, Liverpool Plains, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Tamworth Regional, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha Council areas.

Categories are: Agriculture / Horticulture and associated services; Tourism / Leisure and Services; Professional and Retail services; Manufacturing and Engineering; and Research and Education. The 2011 Innovation of the Year Award will be presented to the leading innovator across all categories. Innovation is not necessarily invention; it can, for example, be a practice, approach or procedure.

The Awards have attracted public and private sector support this year, including: the NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services; the Federal Government's Enterprise Connect; AusIndustry; New England Mutual; AgriFood Skills Australia; Austsafe Super; and Eastern Star Gas, with RDANI being the primary funding body.

Ms Hastings said that RDANI is mindful of how 'time-stressed' the region's businesses are, so the process is concise. "By entering, you not only stand to promote the efforts of your business at local and regional levels, you will also help promote and inspire Northern Inland NSW."

The closing date for entries is Wednesday, 21 September and forms can be found at www.niia.com.au.

The gala awards presentation evening will be held at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club on Friday, 28 October. Tickets need to be purchased by Friday, 14 October, at a cost of $60.00 pp.

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