Manufacturing News

Ai Group to steer digital transformation tool for SMEs

Ai Group receives custodianship of digital tool futuremap

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has been selected as the ongoing custodian of futuremap – a diagnostic platform developed by the IMCRC to help SMEs embrace digital transformation.

The Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), an independent, government-funded organisation with a fixed lifespan, closed its doors at the end of January.

However, the value of futuremap for Australian manufacturing saw IMCRC launch a search for a new long-term custodian late last year.

After a competitive process, IMCRC selected Ai Group – a leading peak national employer association with extensive reach into businesses across the economy – as the custodian of futuremap to guarantee the long-term success of the platform.

Ai Group’s chief executive Innes Willox says, “We are focussed on empowering industry success and supporting our members in lifting their international competitiveness. Custodianship of futuremap will expand Ai Group’s capability to help Australian industry to become more innovative, networked and adaptable.

IMCRC’s outgoing CEO and managing director David Chuter said, “Over the past four years, futuremap has helped over 1000 manufacturers transform their digital operations. Recent findings of an independent study conducted by Swinburne University of Technology has confirmed the effectiveness of the tool.

“Businesses participating in futuremap were found to be growing faster and innovating more than their closest peers, reporting an average increase of 15.5 per cent in sales, 21.5 per cent in wages and 6.6 per cent in staff.

“The results demonstrate futuremap could and should continue to add value to Australia’s manufacturing ecosystem by helping SMEs innovate. We are incredibly pleased that, under Ai Group’s custodianship, this important tool can live on and continue to grow post-IMCRC.”

The arrangement ensures that existing deployment partners – Swinburne University of Technology, University of Technology of Sydney and the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Hub – maintain non-exclusive licenses to deploy futuremap.

This also ensures the program will have a national delivery footprint and will continue to benefit a wide range of businesses across Australia.

The futuremap® offering has already begun to evolve, with the launch of a new net zero module designed to help businesses prepare for and embrace the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“After working with IMCRC since its inception, we recognised the benefits and ongoing potential of futuremap, especially for Australian SMEs,” Willox said.

“We are looking forward to integrating this invaluable program into our service offering, so we can expose businesses to transformative new processes, technologies and ways of working.

“By facilitating self-assessments and stimulating conversations, futuremap acts as a necessary catalyst to streamline current practices and encourage innovation, both of which are critical to business growth,” he concluded.

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