PM to get final say on $800m manufacturing grants

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The guidelines for the collaboration stream of the federal government’s flagship manufacturing program have been released, with grants of up to $200 million for large “transformation” projects to be accepted from next month – and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to have the final say on approvals.

The $800 million in grants will be available under the collaboration stream of the government’s flagship $1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative, which aims to stimulate business investment in manufacturing by addressing barriers to scale and competitiveness for Australian companies in six priority sectors.

On Thursday, guidelines were published for the collaboration stream grants, which offer between $20 million and $200 million to cover up to a third of the costs of eligible large-scale projects.

advanced manufacturing
$800 million of grants are on offer for large manufacturing projects that include collaboration

Projects must include business-to-business or business-to-research collaboration, according to the guidelines, which say collaborations can range from joint ventures and shared facilities to even “informal collaborative interactions such as networking and discussing and sharing ideas and information”.

“Regardless of the form or type of collaboration, projects must demonstrate that they will generate real and meaningful collaborations that will allow manufacturing businesses to achieve scale, become more competitive, create new jobs and help to upskill the Australian manufacturing workforce,” the guidelines say.

The federal government will fund up to a third of successful projects, and other federal government funding sources and state programs can be used for up to 65 per cent, but at least 35 per cent must be from a non-government source.

Projects must be large scale – at least $60 million in eligible expenditure – and be completed by March 2024. It must also be part of the government’s six priority areas – space, medical products, resources and critical minerals, food and beverage, Defence, and recycling and clean energy – and show potential to expand or promote interstate or international trade.

Equal weighting will be given to applicants’ projects alignment with the priority sectors, benefit to Australia, capacity to deliver the project and access to finance. The assessment and negotiation process is expected to take up to 19 weeks.

Industry Innovation and Science Australia will review applications and advise the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, currently Christian Porter, who will recommend projects to the Prime Minister for a final decision.

The Prime Minister will also be able to impose specific conditions on grants, according to the guidelines.

Industry Innovation and Science Australia’s current board members are:

  • Andrew Stevens (chair), non-executive director (various)
  • Dr Cathy Foley, Australian Government chief scientist
  • Prof Raoul Mortley, dean, Bond University
  • Prof Elanor Huntington, dean engineering and computer science, ANU
  • Patrick Houlihan, DuluxGroup chief executive
  • Lauren Stafford, Woodside Energy innovation partnerships manager
  • Scott Farrell, King & Wood Mallesons partner
  • Dr Alex Grant, Myriota chief executive
  • Sarah Nolet, AgThentic funder and chief executive
  • Glenys Beauchamp PSM, non-executive director (various)
  • David Fredericks PSM (ex officio) secretary, Dept of Industry

Mr Porter unveiled the guidelines through a statement published on Thursday.

“Australians know that strong, successful manufacturing businesses make for a stronger country. We want to co-invest in transformative, industry-led proposals that will spur private sector investment, encouraging our manufacturers to draw on each other’s strengths and harness our world class research,” Minister Porter said.

Grants will be accepted from August 11 and will applications will close September 9.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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