Western Australia continues to take the lead as Australia’s largest export state, totalling nearly $140 billion, or 34.7% of Australia’s export trade in 2017-18.
And while the mining and resources sector dominates, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across a range of industries are also playing a key role in building the state’s capabilities.
However, one of the key challenges SMEs face as they take steps to grow their business is accessing the finance needed to enable this growth.
Two WA-based businesses that have overcome this challenge and are taking on global opportunities and seeing the benefits are Epichem and Oz Varieties.
Building IP through blueberries
Oz Varieties focuses on the commercialisation of their blueberry breeding program, developing new varieties of blueberries that thrive in new low chill environments around the world.
Founder Roger Horak explained that the business model is based on the intellectual property (IP) of the new varieties of blueberries that are being developed and sold on a royalty fee basis to blueberry farm operations around the world.
“Our main challenge has been how to increase our income stream from our fruit production to further invest in developing new blueberry varieties that will continue to bring royalty income to Australia,” explained Roger.
The business started looking at the latest machinery available that would substantially increase blueberry production output at their packing facility, enabling it to better meet the burgeoning demand for blueberries in its key markets and fund its plant breeding program. Unable to access finance through their usual channels they approached Export Finance Australia, Australia’s export credit agency.