New fund to support purchase of technology

Manufacturers will be able to take advantage of $50 million in funding from the federal government for the purchase of new technology, with the announcement of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund.

Launched at Emesent, a start-up that is commercialising drone autonomy and mapping technology, the funding from the government will enable manufacturers to be more competitive by awarding matched funding for investments in new technologies.

“Investing in technology can transform businesses, enabling them to become more productive, manufacture new products and create new jobs,” said Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology, Karen Andrews.

With Industry 4.0 technologies promising rapid growth in efficiencies for manufacturers, the fund will address the high cost of initial investment in innovative technology.

“For companies like ours it would help us invest further in manufacturing the product; a grant such as this enables us to invest even more in the research and development of different materials and new technologies, and to hire more people,” said Lorraine Elsmore, marketing director of Emesent.

With industry now largely aware of the value of Industry 4.0, and 37 per cent of business leaders fully ready for Industry 4.0, according to a Deloitte report published in January 2019, investing in these technologies is the next step. Indeed, in an Industry 4.0 report released by the Ai Group at the beginning of August, business and technology investment was a key recommendation.

“The fund will provide grants to small and medium manufacturing businesses so they can invest in capital equipment and new technologies to modernise and employ more Australians. It will also support businesses to upskill workers to maximise the benefits of Technology,” said Andrews.

The fund itself will be broken down into two parts. First, $20m for matched grants of between $50,000 and $100,000 for small scale technology investments. Second, $30m for large scale grants of up to $1m on a three-to-one funding basis with industry for transformative investments in technologies and processes.

“As a young business about to celebrate its first anniversary, which has grown from two co-founders and five employees to 21 full-time staff, this opens a lot of doors,” said Elsmore. Emesent is currently exploring new technologies in robotics in partnership with a global mining company to make mining safer when operating in challenging environments.

“Without this kind of funding, developing and commercialising Australian-made products would be much harder,” said Elsmore.

With the latest Purchasing Managers Index for Australian manufacturing reading 50.9, the equal lowest of the year so far, greater investment in technologies and processes could lift the productivity of the sector as a whole.