The term “big business” can mean a range of things in an increasingly connected global economy, with some local players taking a place amongst the multi-nationals on the international stage.
The term “big business” can mean a range of things in an increasingly connected global economy, with some local players taking a place amongst the multi-nationals on the international stage. While these local players are small in terms of number of employees or humble in their origins, their market share and ability to influence sectors is placing them firmly in the ‘big business’ category.
The export sector is one area where this is becoming increasingly apparent. While we might immediately think of Australia’s powerhouse of iron ore when considering our most valuable exports, it’s the export of services – including tourism, education and training, and business services – where many local players are not just competing with but outpacing traditional bigger businesses. It’s estimated that the export of these business services could add between 0.25 and 0.5 per cent to Australia’s GDP growth this year[i]; and in FY2017 services exports were worth about AUD$81.6 billion[ii]. Austrade notes that in an effort to maintain high levels of growth, China, Australia’s number one export market and most valuable tourism market, is encouraging a transition to services and consumption[iii].
The City of Joondalup’s International Economic Development Activities Plan (IEDAP) identifies opportunities to generate economic outcomes for the City and its businesses and provides a framework for the development of international business relations, with export development one of the core pillars of the Plan. Through a strategic and sustained approach, the City and its local businesses are making progress in the international export of services through leveraging these trends in the sector.
A surprising statistic is that Australia now makes more money selling tourism services internationally than it makes from exporting coal[iv]. Niche tourism marketing sectors, such as tourism associated with international students, and the rising ‘aged tourism’ stream of visitors from China aged above 50 years with time and money at their disposal, are creating inbound and outbound opportunities for tourism operators based throughout the City of Joondalup.
Following several successful trade missions to the Cities of HuZhou, Jinan and Shanghai in China, it is apparent that awareness of Perth as a destination is low among the increasingly competitive and crowded tourism landscape, despite access to direct flights between Perth and Guangzhou.
Through the IEDAP, Joondalup businesses have come together to discuss export interest, current activity and future opportunities, creating a collaborative network of local exporters and providing opportunities to share market knowledge.
This collaborative approach is building the critical mass that’s required to drive change and recognition in international tourism markets, using innovative methods such as joint campaigns promoting the full west-coast experience, and group visits overseas facilitating introductions to wholesalers. Joondalup is exporting a strong message, exporting relationships and facilitating introductions – which are critical for developing tourism exchange opportunities in China.
Exporting education and specialist training services
Offering internationally-ranked universities, an enviable lifestyle, an appealing possibility for future migration and proximity to Asia, Australia has experienced a boom in the sale of education to the rest of the world.
Among the City of Joondalup’s Learning Precinct Partners, innovative and collaborative relationships are thriving as educational products and experiences are developed for export to international markets to make the most of emerging opportunities.
In 2020, China’s population is expected to reach 1.4 billion, with 248 million of these people aged 60 years and over; accommodation in facilities to support their medical needs as well as a qualified workforce to care for them both in short supply[v]. This presents a strong opportunity for Western Australian businesses to establish networks now and export their services to address these challenges.
A Friendly Economic Exchange Agreement has been established between Hu Zhou Third People’s Hospital and the Australian Medical Association (AMA), while Edith Cowan University (ECU) School of Nursing and Midwifery signed an MoU with The Peoples Third Municipal Hospital to undertake exchange/education programs with an in-country delivery component.
A specialist medical tour/exchange program has commenced between Beijing Huatong Guokang Foundation (BHGF) and the AMA (WA), following BHGF confirming they will send between 30 and 40 specialists to Western Australia via the AMA (WA) next month with visits to Joondalup Health Campus and Perth Children’s Hospital high on the agenda. The AMA (WA) is also looking to reciprocate by sending up to 20 specialists from Western Australia on a study tour to China over the next six months.
Aligning with another emerging priority, sustainable development, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Shanghai Smart Fire Safety VET Education and Training Centre have agreed to explore a joint arrangement for in-country delivery and training exchange for electrical trades, incorporating training in solar panel installation, with legislative compliance currently being sought from the Federal Government.
Exporting business services; technology and cybersecurity
Any analysis of trends in global trade inevitably features cybersecurity close to the top of the list of innovations required, with cybersecurity programs and strategies critical parts of any business plan[vi].
With one of the longest-established cyber security courses in the country and one of only two Academic Centres of Cyber Security Excellence in Australia, ECU is leading the way in training future professionals to fill the global skills shortage, with ECU cyber security graduates going on to work in some of the world's leading international tech companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft[vii].
Achieving innovation-led development is being written into plans and policies around the world, with China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan (2016-2020) identifying a range of targets for the country, including becoming an ‘innovative nation’ by 2020, and an ‘international leader of innovation’ by 2030[viii]. Nimble firms able to adapt, respond and innovate quickly have a competitive advantage over traditional big business, allowing them to seize opportunities in sectors and do some ‘big business’ of their own.
Joondalup-based edu-tech firm SEQTA has grown from a humble kitchen table start-up into a multi-award-winning software company. Today SEQTA provides more than 455 schools, 30,000 teachers and 245,000 students with instant online access to everything they need to effectively play their role in the school’s learning community and has recently expanded and begun exporting their products into South East Asia.
Formerly Duncraig-based graphic design and publishing platform Canva, launched just six years ago, has joined the elite ranks of Silicon Valley “unicorns” with a valuation in excess of $US1 billion ($1.28 billion)[ix] and currently employs more than 100 people from 12 countries in three offices around the globe.
Export Development Canada Senior VP, Business Development Mairead Lavery confirms that “exporters (state) all the time that knowledge is one of the most important tools for building international success,”[x] and these words have never rung more true. Gaining access to international connections doesn’t happen by chance. It takes a considered strategy, investment in building relationships and the fortitude to act on these opportunities. With unprecedented access to information, greater investment in innovation and many traditional barriers to competition reduced or removed to allow innovation to flourish, the time is right for a strategic and collaborative approach that gives Joondalup “the edge” in building export successes for local businesses.