No lifeline for Industry Growth Centres

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The Industry Growth Centres did not receive a budget lifeline on Tuesday, confirming the end of government support for the long running program which has had its remaining budget transferred to a manufacturing and supply chain program.

The government-funded centres were established in 2015 to drive cultural change and boost collaboration, commercialisation, skills and regulatory reform in their respective industries, including administering government grants.

While always intended to transfer to self-funding there are doubts about some of the six centres’ ability to do so when government funding ceases in June, after the government refused to release a 2020 review of the centres.

Advanced manufacturing
There was no lifeline for the Industry Growth Centres in Tuesday’s budget

The six centres represent Australia’s advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, food and agribusiness, MedTech and pharmaceuticals, mining equipment, technology and services, and oil, gas and energy reserves industries.

Each Industry Growth Centre has relied on government funding streams for operation and the grants they disperse, and regularly attract industry contributions to their programs. But only the AustCyber centre has landed a major industry partner in its merge with tech incubator Stone & Chalk.

The centres were intended to transition to self-funding after four years of government support. This was extended by another two years but funding will end in June this year, with the centres competing for the last available $19 million to support their transition.

Tuesday’s budget confirmed no more funding will be provided, with the initiative not mentioned in the budget papers and confirmed to be ending by an Industry department spokesperson.

The spokesperson said around $77 million in remaining 2021/22 budget for the growth centres has been transferred to additional support for manufacturing and supply chains.

A leaked report on the growth centres in 2020 by consultants ACIL Allen reportedly supported the centres, saying they had performed well subject to funding restraints which had limited their wider impact.

The Coalition has refused to release this report publicly or even share it with the heads of the six centres. Labor last year accused the government of trying to “kill off” the program to regain control of the grants being administered by the centres for the government’

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