Almost all of the Hunter-based entrepreneurs and innovators who had developed new products or services, or started up a new business in 2015 had encountered barriers, according to new Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) research.
Their main challenges related to finances, costs and cash flow but access to skills, particularly in business planning, marketing and IT, was also a major challenge.
As part of its Regional Competitiveness Research Program, HRF conducted surveys and in-depth interviews with Hunter businesses to test the levels of innovation, motives to innovate and challenges encountered by those who have already entered the region’s innovation space.
Conducted in 2015, in collaboration with mentoring and investment group Hunter Founders Forum (HFF), the HRF’s Innovation in Hunter Businesses research found that nearly one-third of Hunter businesses had introduced new goods or services in the previous 12 months.
HRF project leader Ruth McLeod said that Hunter businesses planning to innovate over the next 12 months are concerned about building customer bases and entering markets.
Those already developing start-ups or seeking to take a new concept to market needed more support.
“Six in 10 of those already in the Hunter’s innovation space said that they would have benefited from more assistance or advice on sourcing funding and commercialisation to get products or services to market. More than half of them would also have benefited from guidance in marketing and business planning,” Ruth said.
John Coyle from HFF said that although there was growing support for those in the tech space, there was a gap for those seeking to get other sorts of ideas or products off the ground – one that his group hopes to address.
HRF and HFF will support innovation in the Region at HRF’s June Hunter Economic Breakfast, when three entrepreneurs will be mentored by HFF to pitch their product or service, as part of the Hunter Innovation Festival.
“We want to encourage people who have great ideas and provide them with practical assistance to navigate the difficult path between concept and commercialisation,” John said.