Australian Business Innovation Index 2018

We shine a light on the ongoing innovation efforts of Australian business.

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For many business owners, innovation can seem an abstract concept. But we know that innovation is common across the entire business sector, regardless of size. Driven by their passion for their customers and competitive pressures, many small business owners innovate continuously.

But few call this innovation. Rather, they’ll speak of improvements or simple changes they have made to their everyday processes or incremental enhancements to their products or services.

In reality, there is no simple diagnostic. But, by measuring actual innovation behaviours, as opposed to other metrics such as patents or R&D intensity for example, NAB’s innovation index is
unique in that it can be applied to business innovation irrespective of size and type of business.

The NAB Labs Business Innovation Index is based on the extent to which firms have adjusted, improved or changed anything in their business that allowed them in the past year to do things:
differently; more quickly; and more cost efficiently.

This report is our third edition of this annual series and provides a timely update on how business innovation behaviours have been tracking in Australia over the past 12 months. Australian businesses were once again asked to assess their innovation behaviour as well as the “culture of innovation” (their perception of innovation) within their own firm, industry, and Australia as a whole.

It is heartening to report that not only do Australian business believe that the “culture of innovation” in Australia has improved significantly over the past 12 months, when measured against their actual behaviours, innovation is also significantly higher than in 2017.

The rise in innovation aligns with more robust levels of business conditions reported in NAB’s Monthly Business Survey over the past year or so. That said it is noteworthy that there remains a strong emphasis on
incremental innovation (such as an improvement to an existing product, service or process), rather than more radical innovations, as businesses remain focused on paying down debt, business simplification and cost reductions, rather than more significant business investment.

By industry, it is interesting to note that Manufacturing, Finance, Business & Property Services have replaced Utilities & Telecoms as the most innovative sectors in 2018.

Encouragingly, when we look at the results across the country, there has been a significant improvement in the levels of business innovation in all states, with the biggest gains in VIC, TAS and QLD. As a result, VIC and QLD have overtaken WA as the most innovative states in the country.

We hope this research will help shine a light on the ongoing innovation efforts of Australian business.

Download the full NAB Labs Australian Business Innovation Index 2018 below: