Bundaberg’s culture of innovation was showcased at the Queensland Local Government conference in Cairns on Tuesday.
Council’s Executive Director Strategic Projects and Economic Development, Ben Artup, spoke about the importance of innovation at a regional and industry level.
He cited examples such as Council’s leadership of a collaborative project to reduce urban glow, collecting data to assess light pollution impacts on nesting turtles.
“Regions and industries that can compete and innovate will flourish, creating a virtuous circle of opportunity,” Mr Artup said.
“Those that can’t innovate or compete will languish in a vicious circle of never-ending challenge and disappointment.”
Mr Artup said regional innovation policy needs to be designed and delivered locally.
“At Bundaberg, our approach is to create the platforms upon which innovation can occur,” he said.
“Our innovation platforms, which aim to build Australia’s best regional community, have four pillars, including:
- Human and citizen engagement – how we aim to grow innovation-based skills in people at the centre of everything;
- Physical and urban – how we create innovative places, infrastructure and new industries;
- Digital and data – how we develop the data and communication tools to compete in a digital world;
- Governance – how we make decisions about innovation.”
Mr Artup said Council had supported initiatives such as the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards, a resident Chief Entrepreneur and talking with NASA to establish a Challenger Learning Center.
Council was also working with the sugar industry to encourage diversification and value adding to ensure long-term sustainability.
“We’ve started city talks around the topic of innovation – the Hinkler Innovation Series – including a new annual innovation award, to recognise innovators and disrupters and bring them to Bundaberg to talk about how we can innovate and do things differently,” Mr Artup said.
“We’ve also innovated with how we communicate.
“With a dearth of positive local journalism, which in the digital age can ruin the way a city is perceived as a place to invest, we created our media publishing outlet Bundaberg Now.
“This Council-run outlet now gets 50,000 visits per month and allows us to position our region more positively in the media landscape.”
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