Episode Archive

SCP E76 Smart Regions and Communities for the Next Generation, with Kerry Anderson

In this episode of the Smart Community Podcast, I have an awesome conversation with Kerry Anderson, the founder of Operation NextGen and the author of Entrepreneurship: It’s everybody’s business. Kerry is passionate about sharing stories from rural and regional Australia.

Kerry tells us a little secret to start with, and also the importance of having new conversations with new people in new places. Kerry and I discuss the concept of Smart Towns and Smart Communities, and how these towns and communities have to embrace change and be willing to experiment.

Kerry then talks about the value of entrepreneurs in the region, and how complacency can affect the growth of a regional area. Kerry then shares about some of the regional conferences and events that are happening, shares some stories and tells us about Operation NextGen.

Kerry tells us about the research she completed overseas and the importance of collaboration and champions to better integrate across the different disciplines, government and industries. We talk about improving connectivity so we can embrace the gig economy in regional Australia. As always, I hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed making it.

Listen here:

What we covered in this episode:

  • Why Kerry was drawn to regional areas and why she started Operation Next Gen
  • What sparked Kerry’s interest in the Smart space and the connectivity piece 
  • Kerry’s definition of a Smart Community and why she believes it’s so important for rural and regional areas
  • How Australia is embracing the concept not only in the capital cities but also in the regions
  • The Operation Next Gen program and other projects Kerry is working on
  • How Kerry works with communities with Operation Next Gen
  • The importance of business not just for our communities but for everyone’s future in Australia 
  • Kerry’s research and experiences in regional areas overseas
  • The value of collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystems and why evidence is important to support the conversations
  • Why we need to accept failure as part of the learning process and ‘have a go’
  • The challenges and opportunities of collaboration for commercialising innovative ideas 
  • The differences in collaboration approaches and abilities in regional areas 
  • Emerging trends of different models for small businesses and agriculture
  • The hidden industry of the gig economy and working from home


We’ve got to have new conversations with new people in new places.

I think a Smart Community has the ability to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes. I am so in awe of the communities that have that ability to reinvent themselves over and over again, and many communities do. A Smart Community has to embrace change, they have to be willing to experiment, they recognise the value of entrepreneurs and they need to be able to collaborate across all sectors for the greater good, because ti’s more than just us, it’s about the future o our communities and their survival. 

I think that complacency is our biggest danger, and when we live in a global world, no-one can afford to be complacent. This is the problem: many rural communities tend to sit back and think [they’re] well established…but change is inevitable and we just need to be able to actively embrace it. Some communities are really good at doing that and others need a little bit more help to get that conversation going. 

When I go around regional Australia, there’s lots of innovative businesses operating in rural towns everywhere, and they’re not necessarily connected in the Australian space yet but they’re doing awesome stuff.

It’s so important to have these conversations so that people are part of the change. It should be led by the community for the community. 

Inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs is the fundamental part of Operation Next Gen. Our whole standard of living depends on a strong business sector and that’s a big part of what I do: helping people to understand the importance of business…. Australia runs on small business, that is the backbone of our economy.

In this era of connectivity, we have rural entrepreneurs that are connecting all over the world. We should be building on that. Density doesn’t have to be in a geographic sense these days, it could be through connectivity. 

The gig economy and [people working from the home office] is almost like a hidden industry in many rural towns and I think this is a huge opportunity for regional Australia, in that we’ve got this connectivity…there are lots of people using technology to work in different ways and they’re not driving into the offices like they used to. 

[The gig economy] a new kind of working…and it requires a whole new set of skills, which is so important for our education system to pick up on.


Connect with Kerry on LinkedIn, as @kerrywords on Twitter, as @RuralEntrepreneurs on Facebook or at her website kerryanderson.com.au 

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community

Connect with My Smart Community via LinkedIn or Twitter and watch on YouTube

Podcast Production by Perk Digital


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