New ideas profitable
Innovation vital for businesses to grow, says consultant
By ALEX EASTON
NORTHERN Rivers businesses are shunning innovation and are stagnating as a result, a local business consultant has warned business groups and inventors.
Addressing an awards ceremony for local inventors yesterday, WHK Rutherfords business manager Graham Correy said a survey by WHK Rutherfords had found 70 per cent of North Coast businesses received less than 30 per cent of their turnover from new products and services.
"They have stagnated and are falling behind the competition," Mr Correy said.
The comments came as local inventors gathered at Lismore City Hall for the INR Technology and Innovation Awards.
Among the winners was Lismore resident Rodney Johnson's Beach Buddy portable locker system.
Speaking after winning a merit award at the ceremony, Mr Johnson said the system would be used commercially for the first time late this month at Byron Bay's Apex Park, next to the Surf Lifesaving club.
Mr Johnson said the lockers would be in place throughout the summer tourist season as part of an effort to encourage surf clubs to take it up.
He said he wanted to lease the lockers, which can double as viewing platforms, to surf clubs for free; letting them raise money by hiring out the lockers while he made money from renting out advertising space on them.
Other winners included Kyogle man Peter Thompson, who has invented a water-saving device for showers, and Yamba's Jack Treacey, who has invented a rack for brick walls that does not require holes or drilling.
The top prize went to Maclean inventor Dennis Gravolin, who has spent 15 years developing an instrument that lets motorists know if the lights on their trailers or caravans are working.
Mr Gravolin said he was already getting strong interest from trailer-hire companies and expected the invention would be available from automotive retail shops by next year.
Mr Correy said Northern Rivers businesses needed to put more focus on innovation if they wanted to increase profits.
Mr Correy said efforts by multinational companies such as 3M, Calvin Klein and Unilever to embed innovation into their organisations and to use that as a vehicle for growth could also be adopted by small local businesses.
Those efforts included encouraging lots of new ideas, acting fast when a good idea came along and favouring simple ideas.