Got a great idea for a new product or service but finding it hard getting it off the ground? Then you’re not alone in the Hunter.
At Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) we recently conducted research into the experiences of start-ups and entrepreneurs trying to innovate in the Hunter and found that almost all of them had encountered barriers and needed more support.
Their main challenges related to finances, costs and cash flow. However, access to skills, particularly in business planning, marketing and IT, was also a major challenge.
As part of our Regional Competitiveness Research Program, we conducted surveys and in-depth interviews with Hunter businesses to test their levels of innovation, motives to innovate and what challenges those who have already entered the region’s innovation space encountered.
While we’re not as innovative as we need to be in the Hunter, our Innovation in Hunter Businesses research, conducted in 2015 in collaboration with mentoring and investment group Hunter Founders Forum (HFF), found that nearly one-third of Hunter businesses had introduced new goods or services in the previous 12 months.
If you’re planning to try and take your idea to the next level, you’re probably experiencing some of the same fears as the entrepreneurs we talked to, who are planning to innovate over the next 12 months but are concerned about building customer bases and entering markets. Or perhaps you’re already developing a start-up or seeking to take a new concept to market but feel you need 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.
And if your idea is not tech-based, you’ll find it even harder. 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. HFF is offering mentoring and practical assistance to navigate the difficult path between concept and commercialisation.
At HRF, we also want to encourage people who have great ideas. As part of the 2016 Hunter Innovation Festival, we approached collaborative work spaces, as well as Hunternet and the Business Centre, to identify two entrepreneurs who are ready to pitch their product ideas to you and an expert panel at our Hunter Economic Breakfast in June.
Hunter Innovation Festival organiser Christina Gerakiteys says that business innovation is about more than patents and inventions. It’s also about operational businesses developing new approaches, products or services that solve problems or create useful change.
To hear the pitches and how our expert panelists assess their chances of success, register now for HRF’s breakfast.