Harnessing the People Factor for Regional Development: The Central Queensland Innovation Accord
The chapter takes a decidedly non-traditional view of how innovation might be best developed and nurtured in regional centres. It argues that, historically, since the emergence of sustainable regional development as a professional practice in Australia, the focus has largely been about economic development (prosperity). Indeed, economic development, if undertaken in isolation, can therefore be grossly simplified as “the identification and exploitation of a locational advantage for financial gain”. However, there is now ample evidence to show that many of Australia’s regions are actually suffering from a development mentality based entirely on economic growth indicators. This is particularly the case for resource-rich regions that are experiencing massive expansion in the mining, minerals and energy sectors. Here, it appears that responses to the broader needs of communities (liveability) and the overall balance of human-environment interactions (sustainability) have been largely “follower” activities and reactionary in nature. Liveability and true “sustainability” have thus often been poorly integrated into strategic regional development plans, agendas and projects. Consequently, within these regions, it is now being recognised that unless “development” is undertaken within a deep contextual understanding of the importance of people and place, then it is unlikely to catalyse truly valuable outcomes for the region. In highlighting this situation, this chapter explores a case study of Central Queensland, during the period in which the Central Queensland Innovation Accord was developed and launched. In responding to the dilemma of economically-led regional development, this chapter attempts to explore three questions: what does the pursuit of innovation mean in the context of regions and regional development; what are the critical human interactions that underpin regional innovation; and what lessons might be learned from the recent establishment of the Central Queensland “Region of Innovation” agenda?
KeywordsRegional Development Regional Innovation Entrepreneurial Process Sustainable Regional Development Regional Prosperity
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