‘Immense’ impact of manufacturing growth centre

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Industry Growth Centre set up in 2015 to help revive Australian manufacturing says it is now generating a nine-to-one return on government and industry investment and creating thousands of jobs by funding projects like electric aircrafts, carbon fibre concrete alternatives and rocket fuel.

The government-funded Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) on Thursday released its annual projects report, showing the expected outcomes of the 141 projects it co-invests in and the results of 31 completed projects.

The report touts an expected $1.62 billion in additional revenue and the creation of 4,288 new jobs from an AMGC and industry co-investment pool of just $137 million.

An external analysis of the AMGC and the other Industry Growth Centres was completed in 2020 but never released by the former Coalition government. The new Labor government has committed to releasing the report, and Industry minister Ed Husic has pledged to continue the program.

Industrial robots
Husic: The AMGC has had an “immense” impact on local projects.

On Thursday, Mr Husic described the AMGC contribution as “immense”.

“Crucially, it [AMGC] has a focus on funding innovative projects that have the potential to make Australia’s manufacturing industry more productive and competitive, but might be in areas where companies may not have the capacity or expertise to tackle the task on their own,” he said.

“I am looking forward to seeing more AMGC success stories in the near future, as we all work together to cement Australia’s reputation as a smart, skilled, innovative nation.”

According to the AMGC analysis, the 31 completed projects it has co-invested $20.26 million in ($7.15 million from federal funding and the remainder from industry in cash and in-kind) have created an additional $188 million in revenue – a nine-to-one ROI – and 430 new or upskilled roles.

The completed projects include electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft being developed by AMSL Aero in regional New South Wales, Austeng’s carbon fibre reinforced geopolymer concrete product, and the manufacture of solid fuel rocket propellant and solid rocket motors in Queensland by Black Sy Aerospace.

AMGC managing director Dr Jens Goennemann said the program success was proof of an Australian advanced manufacturing ecosystem ready to expand.

“We can manufacture amazing things in Australia, provided we focus on being better, not cheaper, that we add value to our abundant natural resources, and we embrace advanced practices and processes – our 2022 Projects Report is proof that we can do so much better than Australia’s current ranking of 91st in global complexity rankings,” Dr Goennemann said.

“If the past two and a half years have taught us anything, it is that we are resourceful, we are resilient and we are innovative when we need to be, now we must be. By focussing on capability and what we do best, Australia has the potential to transform from being a lucky country to a smart country.”

Forecasts for the total 141 projects supported by the AMGC include $1.62 billion in revenue and 4,288 new jobs.

The AMGC is one of six centres set up by previous Coalition government’s to drive growth in priority areas of Advanced manufacturing; Cybersecurity; Food and Agribusiness; Medical Tech and Pharmaceuticals; Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS); and Oil, Gas and Energy Resources.

The Morrison government had planned to wind down the program. It did not fund it beyond this year and pooled the remaining funding to support the centres’ self-sufficiency transition – something originally planned when the program was established.

But the new Labor government has said it is extending the program and will release a report on the six centres’ impact conducted in 2020 but not released publicly.

The report is understood to have been largely positive about the program, according to leaked parts of the document, notwithstanding limitations in its scale identified in the review.

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