Eco Innovator November 2011

Government Policy

Barriers to Water Growth

Australian water firms are helping to develop a high performing sector while operating in one of the world's driest and most challenging climates, says a Water Industry Capability Report by ACA Research and waterAUSTRALIA.

Innovation minister Senator Kim Carr said "The Australian water industry has a well-deserved international reputation for infrastructure delivery, innovative technologies and access to clean, high quality water – even in extreme drought and flood."

Its approach to water policy, management, distribution and efficiency has been seized on globally. This report shows us where the strengths of the sector are and will help industry increase access to domestic supply chains and develop innovative capabilities, he said.

The report is based on a survey of 430 water firms, including manufacturers, technical support service providers, consultants, irrigators and infrastructure operators. It shows water industry businesses turn over $4.2 billion annually and employ over 25,000 people

"It highlights the diversity of the sector and the breadth of capabilities we can tap into across the industry. It identifies areas where we have a significant competitive advantage, as well as shedding light on barriers to growth that firms face. This information will be invaluable in developing future initiatives to help Australian water firms improve their performance and competitiveness."

However, the news is not all good for small and innovative firms, especially in regard to perceptions about barriers to sales growth here and overseas.

"There is also a perception that urban utilities favour larger companies with proven technologies, which is logical given the utilities' concern for public safety and financial governance. It does mean that SMEs with new technologies, as exciting as many may be, struggle to make it to market. Many also expressed concerns about onerous tender conditions, such as uncapped liquidated damages provisions in contracts."

Lack of funding was seen as the third biggest impediment to growth.

Barriers to Growth in the Water Industry.






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