ENV Solutions CEO James Foster with BIKI co-founders Andy Vidler and Kathy Gray at the first BIKI meeting in Ballina last week.
ENV Solutions CEO James Foster with BIKI co-founders Andy Vidler and Kathy Gray at the first BIKI meeting in Ballina last week.

Ballina businesses show they are hungry for a BIKI

THE new Ballina Innovation and Knowledge Initiative (BIKI) met for the first time last week.

The group is a new collaboration and networking hub for businesses, sole traders and professionals living, trading or working within the Ballina Shire.

Around 35 business owners, professionals and sole traders met at the offices of ENV Solutions in Ballina for the first time last Friday, to discuss the opportunities that the new organisation brings to the local economy.

Co-founder Andy Vidler said the initiative was about the business community getting organised to grow together.

“There is people with blockchain expertise across the region, there is people with all kinds of skills in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, so there is an opportunity for them to apply their expertise to problems that other local businesses face, but also to export those sets of skills to organisations outside the region, and bring money and prosperity into the shire,” he said.

Mr Vidler explained the work will be a long-term process.

“This is not something we anticipate building on the Ballina Shire economy that is going to be happening very quickly. It’s more a marathon than a sprint,” he said,

He said the area’s Sourdough program made it possible for Ballina to have its own BIKI.

“The Sourdough program, based in the Byron Shire, have been developing a similar initiative for the broader region, and over time they’ve recognised that there was a growing pocket of interest in this particular subject within the Ballina Shire,” he said.

“They facilitated the introduction of a few different people in Ballina that were interested in initiating this.”

Mr Vidler said they conducted a survey to figure out what the local business community wanted.

“Three things permeated more strongly: one was the desire to collaborate, the second one was a strong interest in co-working, and the third was having a physical space where we can bring together people with different skills and interests, so they cannot only collaborate, but also grow to be more of the sum of their parts,” he said.

Mr Vidler said the event saw a number of business cards and LinkedIn profiles exchanged.

“People were able to indicate their willingness to participate, so it was very positive that we had a lot of people put their hand up to join in,” he said.

The group also has support from the Ballina Chamber of Commerce.

BIKI will be organising ne events soon. For more info visit their social media page.