The Science and Innovation division of the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation has collaborated with the iPREP WA program on a research program. A team of three PhD candidates: Kate Derry, Daniel Kollehn and Andrew Walsh have been busy researching past participants of the WA Innovator of the Year (IOTY) program.

The research project focused on assessing the success rate, developments and progression of award winners since their involvement in the IOTY program. The project included a comparison of how the innovation project and business was performing prior to the program and how it is performing now. This helps to understand success factors and barriers to success for Western Australian innovators.

Over six weeks the team collected over 50 case studies, which were gathered using phone and face-to-face interviews. A final report was compiled and presented to the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation and stakeholders.The research team found that most interviewees are still progressing with their innovations, reported that their business supports local and regional Western Australia, and were still operating in the State across a wide range of industries.

A key finding was that the average employment growth rate for people who participated in the program was 290%, which equates to a company growing from 6 to 24 employees in 2.7 years.

Additionally, interviewees felt the value of the IOTY program extended beyond the funding received by the winners. They considered that the training received, the exposure, and the networking opportunities gained by participants through the program, were seen as essential to growth. The overall feedback was that there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the IOTY program and its contribution to creating jobs and economic growth in Western Australia.

IOTY Program Manager, Penny Harker said that,

“The data the team have gathered are invaluable to the innovation division. They have quantified the success of the program and been able to identify areas of improvement which will impact future program design. As well as being a pleasure to work with, the team has exceeded our expectations and made a substantial contribution to the continuous success of the IOTY program."

Original article published in the New Industries WA Newsletter, November 2018