University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Design innovation: a tool for value-adding to the Papua New Guinea balsa wood industry

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 11:12 authored by Nathan KotlarewskiNathan Kotlarewski, Kuys, B, Thong, C
In recent times the Papua New Guinea (PNG) balsa wood industry has increased in global volume and value, offering employment to a significant number of individuals in East New Britain (ENB) province. The PNG balsa industry previously relied on China’s renewable wind energy industry for rotor blade manufacturing, which was claimed to be the largest consumer of processed balsa from PNG. Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) the Chinese demand for PNG balsa has significantly reduced resulting in a mass over-supply and under-demand for the PNG resource. A lack of design innovation has added to the current market conundrum and left many smallholders unable to sell their balsa, leading to widespread financial hardship. It has come to the attention of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and many stakeholders, if there are no new applications for balsa there is no point continuing to grow the resource for a market that is not consuming it. Design innovation generated through research-led industrial design practice is argued as a key element to value-adding to the PNG balsa industry and smallholder businesses, which rely on balsa production for financial gain to support their family and community. A case study of the Swinburne University of Technology, Innovation Cup competition is used as a method to demonstrate how research informs design innovation to add value to the PNG balsa industry.


Publication title

Proceedings of the Design for Business: Research Conference




School of Architecture and Design



Place of publication

Melbourne, Australia

Event title

Design for Business: Research Conference 2015

Event Venue

Melbourne, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright unknown

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Technological and organisational innovation

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager