Dr Fiona Kerr: Value Chain Mapping


The University of Adelaide is pleased to announce that Dr Fiona Kerr, adjunct with the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre (ECIC), has been commissioned by the Economic Development Board (EDB) of South Australia to work on a value chain mapping and analysis method to be used by the state government as a basis for policy design and implementation. This study will enable comparative analysis across disparate industry and sector value chains, and assist the government in setting priorities and designing intervention strategies to improve South Australia’s innovative capacity.

“This mapping method cuts through the myriad of information and data out there which clouds the discussions we have and brings clarity. Overloads of data, compounded by spin are increasingly requiring rigour and discipline in methodology if we are to obtain real solutions. This is a great base to start from.”

(Dr. Ian Gould, Chancellor of University of SA; chair SAMPEG, CSIRO minerals sector advisory council, SA Minerals and Petroleum Expert Group, St. Andrews Hospital. Member of Advanced Manufacturing Council, Economic Development Board and Premiers Science and Research Council).

In order to design and implement government policy effectively (in terms of where, when and whether to intervene), there initially needs to be a clear understanding of the value chain. A chain map shows the full range of processes and activities undertaken to deliver services or goods, and the actors and relationships involved at the various stages. The maps allow all parties to have a shared picture of their sector or industry, and they are a vital base from which to carry out value chain analysis in a participative way. This creates a better understanding of value flow, allowing governments to predict and review the consequences of actions undertaken, and enabling informed decisions.

Whilst value chains are certainly not a new phenomenon, they have rarely had the capability to compare sectors and chains. Fiona has pioneered a chain mapping method that can be applied consistently across industries and sectors, whether large, small, complex, simple, established or new. Since 2013 she has been working directly with sector leaders in the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) and PIRSA to refine the mapping design and ensure its effectiveness. So far she has mapped three sectors – unconventional gas, forestry / cellulose fibre, and wheat (Fiona is not an economist, and approached this task in terms of complex decision making, and the need to create alignment).

Following presentation of the three sector maps to the EDB Fiona has now been commissioned to map a fourth value chain – tertiary education. She is currently writing a manual on the chain mapping methodology, and designing an interactive tool kit (rather than a folder on the shelf) which will develop practical skills. The next step is to move into the ‘value chain analysis’ area to enable policy and decision makers to focus on developing long term, sustainable, policies which will grow an innovative eco-system.

Fiona has a number of innovative projects coming up, and we look forward to sharing her exciting work with you.

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