Manufacturing in Australia and around the world is turning the corner. It’s turning the corner in a smart, advanced way, creating opportunities that the nation must grasp.
The tide of change occurring in the sector—and the opportunities arising from this change—was a central theme of my address to the National Manufacturing Summit in Canberra in June.
The summit was a great chance to speak to key stakeholders from across the sector and outline the Government’s vision for manufacturing in Australia.
The summit was also an important opportunity to hear experts from a range of sectors—industry, education and government—discuss the state of Australian manufacturing and share ideas about how manufacturing in this country can innovate and prosper.
As the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, I’m acutely aware of the important role manufacturing plays in the nation’s economy. Manufacturing is an indispensable part of the innovation ecosystem that we are trying to build in this country. We can’t hold back the tide of change that’s gathering pace—what we have to do is adapt.
I made it clear at the summit that we have to adopt an innovation mindset and a global outlook. We recognise that we need to embrace advanced technologies and innovative business processes to be globally competitive. In essence it’s about being smarter in the way we do things.
The opportunities presented by Industry 4.0, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics were all discussed at the summit. They’re all incredibly exciting developments and will all play a role in smarter manufacturing for the future.
But the essence of smarter manufacturing is clever ideas—and one thing I know about this country is that we really punch above our weight when it comes to knowledge creation. The challenge, however, is how we translate this knowledge creation into more commercial outcomes.
No sector of the economy invests more, relative to its output, in new research and experimental development than manufacturing. But we can do more—and we are. It all revolves around collaboration.
We have the Industry Growth Centres, Cooperative Research Centres and Entrepreneurs’ Programme all working to help Australian businesses and researchers to collaborate, innovate and succeed. And we have just rolled out the first two tranches of our additional $100 million investment in advanced manufacturing.
This includes the $47.5 million Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund, which has grants to encourage new capital investments in advanced manufacturing in South Australia and Victoria, where car assembly will cease later this year. And $20 million has been dedicated to advanced manufacturing research projects under the Cooperative Research Centre Projects initiative.
Manufacturing is seizing opportunities by playing to their competitive strengths to build dynamic and globally focused businesses. But to make the most it, we must continue to invest in knowledge and draw on our reputation as a nation of innovators.
Senator Arthur Sinodinos is the Minister for Industry, Innovation & Science.