$250,000 grants for TCF manufacturers

Textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) manufacturers can receive a much-needed monetary boost as part of the Government’s TCF Strategic Capability Program.

Grants of $250,000 are up for grabs to take Australia’s dwindling TCF manufacturing industry into the black.

The fund is part of the Government’s push to help manufacturers compete with their global counterparts by becoming more ‘green’.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr urges TCF companies to innovate so they can survive in Australia’s increasingly emissions-focussed economy.

Clothing manufacturers are the latest focus in a round of grants designed to help lower manufacturers’ carbon emissions.

“Though the Strategic Capability Program TCF industries can build their capability, help strengthen supply chains and capture opportunities in green innovation,” Senator Carr said. 

The TCF Strategic Capability Program, announced in April this year, is a five-year, $35 million investment scheme to build Australia’s capabilities.

The Government has also invested $37 million for new textile labs at the CSIRO–Deakin University Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre in Waurn Ponds, Victoria.

“In the first round, the Government partnered with ten companies to progress exciting and visionary projects such as a nanotechnology textile manufacturing plant and a new textile roofing material that converts sunlight to electricity,” said Senator Carr. 

“Another project has created a manufacturing and training hub which is helping small TCF businesses grow by giving them access to the latest technology and know-how.

“TCF is an important part of our manufacturing sector. It employs more than 45,000 people – many in regional Australia. Increasing capability will ultimately translate into better skills and more jobs.”

For this round of funding, the Government is reportedly looking for applications that show innovation, collaboration, market access, business improvement, skills development, environmental sustainability and ethical practices. 

Joint applications between TCF businesses, industry bodies and education institutes are being encouraged.

Back in April, Senator Carr claimed the TCF sector is one of the most forward-thinking manufacturing industries in the country in terms of investing for innovation.

“Like most manufacturing industries, TCF faces the challenge of creating sustainable products and business practices in a changing global environment. But the rewards are there for the firms who can adapt first. TCF is well-placed to make that transition,” Senator Carr said at the inaugural Big Green Conference in Geelong in April.

The TCF manufacturing industry has been one of the hardest-hit by globalisation, particularly by cheaper manufacturing regions like South East Asia.

The sector is a spot on what it was in the early 1980s, before foreign competition became a serious problem for TCF, heavy engineering, steel and shipbuilding manufacturing.

Retailer Myer recently announced it would double its outsourcing for TCF products to China, investing $200 million a year overseas.

Most of Australia’s TCF industry is now made up of smaller, niche, high-end brands.

The closing date for this round of TCF Strategic Capability Program applications is 5 August 2011. Details of workshops will reportedly be provided on the AusIndustry website shortly. 

For more information on the TCF Strategic Capability Program in general, phone AusIndustry on 13 28 46.

Image from Comerce.com

Do you think the TCF Strategic Capability Program will help Australian TCF manufacturers bounce back, or is it too late?