Manufacturing fund opens for business


James Riley
Editorial Director

The first program under the $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative – this one focused on the space sector – is open for business, with government calling for the first applicants for funding under the scheme.

Unveiled by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison last October as a key industrial pillar in the government’s COVID economic recovery strategy, the Modern Manufacturing Initiative aims to re-shape the Australian manufacturing sector.

The MMI has focused on six areas of comparative advantage and strategic importance identified through the development in 2020 of post pandemic economic recovery strategy; Resources technology and critical minerals processing; food and beverage; medical products; recycling and clean energy; Defence; and space.

Karen Andrews
Karen Andrews: Readies the first grants under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative

In the initial round, businesses with projects in the space sector are the first able to apply for grants to help commercialise ideas or processes, or to integrate into global supply chains.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews today released a space sector roadmap developed with industry to guide the guide the types of projects the government will back in space manufacturing under the program.

“This road map sets out our vision for manufacturing investment in the sector,” Minister Andrews said. “From products launched into space like nano and small satellites, through to space components like sensors and communication arrays – Australia has a number of unique opportunities across space manufacturing.”

“These opportunities are strengthened by our world-class research, our geographic location and existing advanced manufacturing expertise.”

Space is just one of the six priority areas under the MMI program, which map roughly to the same six priorities areas of the existing Industry Growth Centre program, which is funded until June 2022.

It is understood each of the growth centres has been asked to configure and submit new plans that will align with the government’s manufacturing-led economic recovery strategy.

“Industry has been the key driver of these manufacturing road maps, while the CSIRO, Industry Innovation and Science Australia and other relevant portfolios have also provided valuable insight that will result in more jobs from the Strategy,” Minister Andrews said.

“These road maps will continue to be built on over time to inform the long-term strategy and ensure we’re capturing new opportunities to grow these priority sectors and create jobs,” she said.

The space sector roadmap includes a focus on products the go into space – such as robotics and automation systems, nano satellites, and launch vehicles – as well as space components that range from sensors to communications arrays, to solar panels.

The MMI grant would also be available for associated space products and infrastructure that includes launch facilities, key ground-based subsystems, as well as new technologies and materials.

“This is a road map that has been developed by industry for industry,” Mrs Andrews said. “A lot of work has been done to make sure that what we have identified within the space sector are the key priority areas that we need to work on to build our capability.”

“The roadmap that we’re launching today clearly sets out the direction that the space industry and space manufacturing is heading in Australia. This is not a static document, this is a dynamic document,” she said.

“Over the next 10 years we will continue to work with industry to make sure that what we are developing meets industry needs.”

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