Innovation on the rise as Australian businesses double-down



NAB research released today reveals that businesses across Australia are capitalising on changes they made to their model to survive a turbulent 2020 and are now investing to build on the opportunities that were uncovered.

With business conditions returning to multi-year highs and ongoing signs of improvement in the economy, innovation in 2021 is being driven by doing things more quickly and cost efficiently. While innovation arising from doing things differently has fallen post the initial COVID spike, it remains the biggest contributor to overall innovation.

Innovation was higher in all states in 2021 with Victoria once again crowned Australia’s most innovative state (up 2.0 pts to 55.7 pts, ahead of SA at 54.5 pts).  Meanwhile, Mining has emerged as the most innovative sector (up 13.2 pts to 58.6 pts), with notable improvements also in Manufacturing, Transport, Storage and Construction.

NAB Group Executive Business & Private Bank, Andrew Irvine, said last year presented many companies with a unique opportunity to take stock and focus their business on the strongest opportunities.

“After years of consistent GDP growth in Australia, the arrival of the pandemic was a real shock to the economic system and to companies across the country. This crisis, however, forced many businesses to clean up their balance sheets, sell off unnecessary stock or equipment and refocus their efforts where the real opportunities for growth lie,” Mr Irvine said.

“The innovation we are seeing now is more concentrated on investing in new equipment or new premises to take advantage of new ideas they developed last year. Pivot was a great catchphrase for 2020, but this year is all about doubling down on the opportunity.

“COVID-19 has created new opportunities for growth and those businesses that invest in innovation are likely to outperform post the pandemic.

“NAB has been lending more than $2.5 billion a month to small businesses since the beginning of the pandemic and it is clear that businesses are finding amazing opportunities to invest in.”

During the onset of the pandemic, Victorian business, Spacecube – who create modular infrastructure from waste materials – found that almost instantly, their product had a wealth of new uses including the creation of a COVID-19 Medical Facility at Monash Health.

Spacecube CEO, Mark Davies said this year the company would be looking to build on the new uses they uncovered for their product by helping Melbourne’s hospitality sector recover with increased seating capacity for restaurants, bars and cafes and increasing awareness of their brand.

“With the support of our business banker, we were able to focus on taking our product to markets that didn’t previously exist,” Mr Davies said.

“In the matter of weeks, we were forced to expand and adapt to avoid being pigeonholed during the pandemic.”

“That was 2020 – our focus now is to build on our product and get our name out there to grow our business.”

To support business innovation, NAB has 134 new businesses bankers on the road focussed on small businesses across Australia that based in regional locations such as Colac (VIC), Gawler (SA), Davenport (TAS) and Geraldton (WA).  This is in addition to the 130 workers who will be able to work from anywhere across regional and rural Australia to support personal banking operations and the 150 new remote bankers in South Australia assisting customers with phone and digital banking enquiries.

Customers can connect to their nearest small business banker initially by phone or online:

  • On the phone via 13 10 12 from 8am – 8pm Mon-Fri, or 9am – 6pm on weekends (AEST/AEDT)
  • Online via our Small business hub.




Notes to editors:

  • The full Innovation Survey report is available at NAB Economics
  • The full list of regions where NAB’s newest small business bankers are based:
  1. Albany (WA)
  2. Albury (NSW)
  3. Batemans Bay (NSW)
  4. Ballarat (VIC)
  5. Ballina (NSW)
  6. Bendigo (VIC)
  7. Bunbury (WA)
  8. Bundaberg (QLD)
  9. Busselton (WA)
  10. Cairns (QLD)
  11. Canberra (ACT)
  12. Colac (VIC)
  13. Charlestown (NSW)
  14. Dandenong South (VIC)
  15. Darwin (NT)
  16. Davenport (TAS)
  17. Dubbo (NSW)
  18. Echuca (VIC)
  19. Gawler (SA)
  20. Geelong (VIC)
  21. Geraldton (WA)
  22. Gympie (QLD)
  23. Hobart (TAS)
  24. Karratha (WA)
  25. Kingaroy (QLD)
  26. Launceston (TAS)
  27. Lismore (NSW)
  28. Leongatha (VIC)
  29. Mackay (QLD)
  30. Maroochydore (QLD)
  31. Maitland (NSW)
  32. Mildura (VIC)
  33. Moruya (NSW)
  34. Mount Barker (SA)
  35. Murray Bridge (SA)
  36. Mundaring (WA)
  37. Mount Gambier (SA)
  38. Narrabri (NSW)
  39. Northam (WA)
  40. Nowra (NSW)
  41. Newcastle (NSW)
  42. Orange (NSW)
  43. Pakenham (VIC)
  44. Port Macquarie (NSW)
  45. Port Lincoln (SA)
  46. Rockhampton (QLD)
  47. Riverton (SA)
  48. Roma (QLD)
  49. Sale (VIC)
  50. Shepparton (VIC)
  51. St Arnaud (VIC)
  52. Tamworth (NSW)
  53. Taree (NSW)
  54. Toowoomba (QLD)
  55. Townsville (QLD)
  56. Wagga Wagga (NSW)
  57. Warrnambool (VIC)
  58. Wangaratta (VIC)
  59. Warragul (VIC)
  60. Wollongong (NSW)
  61. Whyalla (SA)



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