The federal government has opened the first round of its $50 million supply chain resilience program, with funding on offer for businesses involved in medical and agricultural manufacturing projects which improve access to critical products in times of crisis.
Semi-conductors, water treatment chemicals and telecommunications equipment are being considered for the next round of grants, with between $50,000 and $2 million in matched funding on offer.
The sectors were identified earlier this year by global consultancy Deloitte, which received $242,000 for five weeks work to develop the government’s $107.2 million Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.
Part of the Coalition’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, the initiative looks to address vulnerabilities across supply chains for critical products, and was announced last year with plans for a new federal agency to oversee it.
On Wednesday, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter launched the first round of grants, which are on offer for manufacturers and other businesses operating on Australia and involved in the supply chain of biopharmaceuticals and agricultural production chemicals.
Projects need to addresses supply chain vulnerabilities associated with either biopharmaceuticals or agricultural production chemicals.
“COVID-19 has taught us that we need to be able to have access to critical products in times of crisis and that is why we are investing in projects to support our supply chain resilience,” Mr Porter said in a statement.
“Our initial analysis identified medicines, agricultural production chemicals – such as fertilisers – and personal protective equipment (PPE) as sectors of focus.”
Mr Porter said assistance has already been provided to local PPE manufacturers in response to COVID-19.
“This included providing funding to establish and expand local manufacturing, establishing accredited product testing capabilities, and providing free access to product standards and streamlining regulatory reviews and approvals. Now we want to drive the same success for medicines and agricultural production chemicals,” he said.
A second round of analysis into semi-conductors, water treatment chemicals and telecommunications equipment “is commencing shortly” and could lead to manufacturing and supply chain projects in those areas being included in future grant rounds.
Under the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative, a new Office of Supply Chain Resilience will also be established, with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet receiving $15.5 million over the next two years in the latest budget to set it up and run it.
Trade ministers from Australia, Japan and India agreed in April to convene at least once a year to provide guidance on he implementation of the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative.
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