$50m fund opens for manufacturing

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The federal government’s $50 million advanced manufacturing fund for SMEs is now open for business, with grants of up to $1 million on offer for technology-based projects.

It comes as Queensland has also opened applications for a similar advanced manufacturing fund and launched a regional hub in Townsville.

The federal government’s Manufacturing Modernisation Fund was announced in the lead up to the May election by the Coalition, with $50 million in Commonwealth funds pledged along with $110 million from the private industry.

Industry minister Karen Andrews opened applications for the fund last week.

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“This delivers on the Morrison government’s commitment to help manufacturing businesses innovate and develop competitive advantage so they can thrive globally,” Ms Andrews said.

“Investing in technology can transform businesses, enabling them to become more productive, manufacture new products and create new jobs,” she said.

“Strengthening our core and emerging manufacturing industries is a key part of the government’s economic plan to create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years.”

The funding is split into two streams: $20 million for smaller-scale investments in technologies to improve efficiency, and $30 million for larger-scale transformative technology investments.

Grants of up to $100,000 are available for the smaller stream, and up to $1 million for the other.

Projects eligible for the fund include technological upgrades, efficiency upgrades for larger, more transformative efforts. Applications for the fund close at the end of October, with the grant period running for two years.

The Queensland state government has also opened the third funding round of its own similar initiative, Made in Queensland. Launched in 2017, the scheme offers grants of up to $2.5 million for SME manufacturers in the state looking to make innovative improvements to their business.

Made in Queensland has completed two funding rounds, providing matched capital to 75 projects, with 40 per cent coming from regional Queensland.

The funding is aimed at projects like an SME making improvements to its advanced manufacturing equipment or leading-edge systems that support manufacturing, with an aim to increase global competitiveness, productivity and innovation thanks to the adoption of new technologies.

Queensland manufacturing minister Cameron Dick said $6 million is on offer with the new round.

“Since 2017 we have supported around 75 projects, which will create more than 930 new jobs over the next five years and generate approximately $92 million in private sector investment. And more than half of these projects have also been finalised, generating 188 new jobs and more than $28 million in private sector investment,” Mr Dick said.

“This funding can help manufacturers reach new horizons, transform into the advanced manufacturers of tomorrow and make a positive impact across the sector. The numbers behind Made in Queensland are impressive and demonstrate this initiative is making a big splash.

“The program is helping us build a strong advanced manufacturing sector, which means more Queensland jobs, and more jobs means a stronger Queensland.”

Expressions of interest for the funding round are open until 11 October, with successful applicants then asked to submit a detailed application in November.

The Queensland government has also opened its first regional manufacturing and innovation hub in Townsville this week. The launch of three of these $10 million hubs was a 2017 election promise by the Liberal government, and is part of the state’s advanced manufacturing 10-year road map.

The hub will provide regional manufacturers with advice and support and tailored workforce skills, Mr Dick said.

“The hub will promote collaboration between industry with vocational, tertiary and secondary education providers to ensure our next generation workforce has strong skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” he said.

It will also promote “world-leading technologies” to these companies, including Internet of Things, automation and robotics.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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