By Peter Roberts
The federal government is backing a major expansion of Flinders University’s Factory of the Future at the Tonsley innovation precinct in Adelaide, honoring an election promise it first made before the 2019 federal election.
Industry minister Ed Husic today announced that next week’s budget would include $10.1 million to help Flinders grow the facility, which was developed with BAE Systems Australia along the model of the UK’s successful catapult industry centres.
The South Australian government have pledged $4.1 million and Flinders will also fund the new manufacturing growth accelerator.
Husic said the Factory of the Future would work with more than 100 advanced students and 200 small-to-medium enterprises to build their technological capabilities and help them gain a foothold in critical supply chains.
Husic said: “We are delivering on our election commitment to support the Factory of the Future, delivered for Adelaide and local manufacturing.
“The state-of-the art facility will help develop a dedicated workforce to bridge skills gaps in digital and advanced manufacturing technologies.”
Unlike the industry growth centres which were established by the Coalition government, the Flinders centre is more than a funding body, boasting its own manufacturing facilities where SMEs are able to demonstrate and improve their offerings.
Several companies have already graduated from the Factory of the Future to work at BAE Systems’ Osborne naval shipyard on the construction of the Hunter class frigates for the navy.
It is this combination of research linkages, experimental manufacturing facilities and pathway to commercial manufacturing that has made the Catapult centres, and the German Fraunhofer centres so effective in supporting advanced manufacturing.
It is estimated that more than 100 students a year from Flinders University will benefit from the Factory of the Future.
Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said: “The Factory of the Future is Australia’s first industrial-scale high-value manufacturing research and accelerator facility.
“The Federal Government’s support will help to realise the full potential of the Factory of the Future to boost sovereign capacity through manufacturing growth, more jobs and stronger exports.”
Flinders is also offering a novel Diploma of Digital Technologies to upskill the future workforce.
Husic said: “We need to build strategic industry capability and strengthen our ability to harness technologies to future proof our prosperity and national wellbeing.
“This investment will foster economic growth by helping create new jobs in emerging industries.”