Top factors for Australian manufacturing

ARM Hub CEO and Founder Dr Cori Stewart summarises her opening remarks for the Australian Governnment’s recent House Standing Committee inquiry in Brisbane this month.

I raised three factors critical to manufacturing in Australia at the House Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Resources for Developing Advanced Manufacturing in Australia.

1. Australia’s population decline

Our declining population demands we innovate to drive new productivity into manufacturing and make the most value out of our working population. Technology must be a force multiplier here.

Australia’s birth-rate is 1.6, and a nation needs 2.1 to maintain its population. It means we will have about 2.5 people in 2050 of working age (15-64) for every older Australian.

These statistics have Australia on a trajectory of hard-to-reverse population decline often described as the “Japan Dilemma”.

Australia needs a strong technology sector to do the jobs we don’t or cannot do. We need to use our human labour in more valuable and rewarding working roles if we want to secure a manufacturing workforce at all.

We need a strong robotics, automation and artificial intelligence capability. We know that robots creates jobs, they don’t take jobs.

Australia is 30th of all countries in its ratio of robotics to the human workforce, which is poor given at the same time we are globally recognised as leaders in robotics research and robotics innovation more widely. Australia also has the lowest manufacturing capability of all OECD countries.

Incremental change, uncoordinated policy efforts, and unstable or uncertain investment environments will hamper our ability to be a modern competitive manufacturing nation.

2. Australia is poor at scaling enterprises

This includes scaling manufacturing as well as the technology businesses like robotics that underpin our manufacturing ability.

Recently, the Tech Council of Australia released its Shots on Goal report saying:

‘Australia needs a lot more scale’up capital to match the United States on a per capita basis. While we do meet comparative investment environment to the US for Series A funding and we not too bad at Series B funding, for Series C and D – the scale-up stage characterised as when you employ a large workforce and export to the globe – Australia will need to increase funding by five times above BAU growth to match the United States by 2030 on a per capita basis. At our current rate Australia will face an expected gap in scaleup funding of $53b by 2030.’

The Australian Government’s National Reconstruction Fund and the Industry Growth Program are critically important in this space and will need to invest in ‘intangibles’ such as software, which is the smart part of manufacturing.

It is critical we scale-up manufacturing, which means accessible investment. It is the only way we can realise a net gain from cooperative trade policy settings with the U.S. (e.g. the Inflation Reduction Act, the proposed Defence Production Act, and the Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact).

3. Coordinated national approach to industry policy

We strongly believe a coordinated national approach to industry policy would coalease Australia’s efforts and resources, making us more competitive.

I would like to build on the idea of Australia’s network of Factories of the Future to facilitate open innovation and collaboration in manufacturing, which enables investment in key sovereign capabilities to be translated across industry sectors.

We also recommend further investment in strategic programs for industry:

• technology accelerators
• global supply chain innovation programs
• workforce development programs
• manufacturing precincts of global renown.

Australia needs to set the foundation for a coherent and successful industrial transformation strategy.

A strong network of Factories of the Future will tackle Australia’s narrow trade and industrial structure and create the industries and jobs of the future.

Only manufacturing can provide the foundations for national reconstruction because it will deliver the innovation, productivity and competitiveness and jobs we need to ensure greater sovereign capability and economic complexity, including diversification of our export mix.

Female Founder Technology Accelerator opens for business

The ARM Hub has opened a new technology accelerator for female founders of Queensland-based technology and manufacturing companies.

The ARM Hub Technology Roadmap Accelerator for Female Founders is designed to help female business owners or women leading companies to take their business to the next level.

ARM Hub CEO and founder Dr Cori Stewart opened the Expressions of Interest in the accelerator during a special event with Queensland Minister for Tourism, Innovation and Sport Stirling Hinchliffe at ARM Hub today.

“As a female founder myself, I’m thrilled to be able to offer this program to Queensland’s entrepreneurs and business leaders,” Dr Stewart said.

“The accelerator goes beyond refining your business objectives. We help you identify and plan the Industry 5.0 technologies you need to scale your business.

“These roadmaps are fit-for-purpose, designed with the help of leading Australian experts in the field of robotics, artificial intelligence, automation, and design-led manufacturing.

“This is a great opportunity for Queensland small-to-medium businesses and micro-businesses to tap into a wealth of knowledge and experience.

“Roadmaps are essential for growing your business and becoming more attractive to investors.”

The accelerator is open to women in Queensland who have founded a business, are in a business that is 50% female owned, or is led by a female (e.g., CEO, Director, Executive).

To gain the most benefit from the accelerator, we recommend applying if:

  • your business or product is underpinned by, or includes, a technology component, OR
  • your business or product requires manufacturing, OR
  • you business or product includes a technology component and requires manufacturing.

The ARM Hub Technology Accelerator Roadmap for Female Founders is a joint initiative with VenturePro and is supported by Advance Queensland Female Founders Accelerator Program.

The Hub technology accelerator is one of 11 recipients of the first round of grant funding under the Advance Queensland Female Founders Accelerator Program.

Expressions of Interest for the Hub accelerator close on 15 August 2023. The accelerator will run from August to November 2023.

For more information please review the eligibility criteria or contact Director Marketing and Memberships, Angela Reed.