$1b of grants to prep students for digital economy

Siemens has announced an industrial software grant of $447 million commercial value of Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software to the University of Western Australia (UWA).  This grant is part of a broader program of what is expected to amount to about $1 billion in hi-tech Siemens PLM industrial software grants to select universities across Australia. The grants are designed to prepare students and University researchers to be ready for Industry 4.0.

This follows an earlier announcement of the first such grant by Siemens to Swinburne University of Technology’s “Factory of the Future” in August this year – the first of the universities to benefit from close industrial partnerships.

To complement this program, the Federal Government today also announced a $5 million commitment to help establish a network of five Industry 4.0 test laboratories supporting the transition of SMEs to a digital economy – co-funded by industries and universities.

Both announcements are linked to the recommendations and work of the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce – an industry led group established to support improved bilateral relations between Australia and Germany.

Mathias Cormann, the Minister for Finance for Australia and the head of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group believes that investment in technologies and industry collaboration is critical to pushing forward Australia’s digital economy.

“I am encouraged to see industry and academia collaborating to drive forward Australia’s digital economy. As a nation, our focus should be on driving productivity in existing industries and building our competitive strengths in new ones – all using digital technologies.

“But to do that, we first need to ensure that students, who will be our workforce of the future, have access to the best digital tools and can learn the right skills that will be relevant in future. I welcome Siemens’ commitment to helping up-skill our future workforce and prepare them for the fourth industrial revolution,” said Cormann.

Michaelia Cash, Acting Minister for Industry Innovation and Science made the test laboratory funding announcement. “The world is entering a fourth industrial revolution where automation and digital technologies provide countries like Australia with unprecedented access to contribute to global value chains. But we need the skills and tools to help our SMEs prepare for the transition,” said Cash.

“This money, with co-contribution by the selected universities and industry partnerships, will help establish Industry 4.0 showcases, an innovation platform and a transformation catalyst for our SMEs to support their transition to a digital economy.

“The testlabs will support workforce transformation in many ways including acting as education and training platforms where SMEs can develop Industry 4.0 relevant capabilities.”

Speaking on the announcement, visiting global Member of the Managing Board and Siemens’ global chief technology officer Dr. Roland Busch noted that the grant to UWA was a strong boost of confidence in Australia and the nation’s potential to innovate.

“Australian ingenuity is world-renowned. As global market places prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, Australia has the ability to ride the digital wave. Companies such as MRX Technologies and Firewire Surfboards and products such as Siemens’ Fusesaver are testament to the fact that local Australian innovations can make a significant impact globally.”

“The opportunities in Australia to benefit from digitalisation are immense – and with the right digital tools we are only limited by our imaginations. In many ways this is like speaking the same digital language so we can collaborate globally in our trade and value chains.”

UWA vice-chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater said the software grant from Siemens was a remarkable contribution to the education of UWA students, now and into the future.

“UWA wants to enhance its reputation as an institution of tomorrow; a place that empowers and equips students for the careers of the future, some which haven’t been created yet,” Freshwater said.

“This unique software will help us do just that as well as providing our students with invaluable access to some of the world’s most advanced and powerful software tools which have been used on NASA Mars missions and the development of the new Joint Strike Fighter project.”

“The government grant for the testlabs will also be used to help establish UWA’s planned Industry 4.0 testlab, known as the LNG Futures Facility. The specialised software will enable a team led by Professor May to create a digital twin of a physical LNG plant, providing an entirely new training capability for tomorrow’s workforce and allowing Australian innovators access to facilities essential for technology development,” said Freshwater.

The Siemens PLM software grant provides a suite of advanced PLM software and ensures UWA will have access to the same advanced software, processes and best practices that are used to develop some of the most sophisticated global products and systems in industries including automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding, high-tech electronics and more.

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