Manufacturing News

Industry-led research drives manufacturing growth – report

Manufacturing News

By Peter Roberts

The importance of linking manufacturers to public sector research capabilities compared to grant-focused programmes favoured by the previous Coalition government has been confirmed through a major study of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

The report by consultants ACIL Allen report found the IMCRC’s 71 manufacturing R&D projects were on track to deliver 4.2 billion in financial benefits and 6,000 jobs by 2030

The Impact of the IMCRC report examined the economic, social and environmental benefits that IMCRC has generated for its industry and research partners since its launch in 2016.

The findings confirmed the effectiveness of IMCRC’s industry-led business model in driving transformative commercial outcomes for Australian manufacturers.

The report should be instructive to a federal government looking to evolve the Industry Growth Centres which were grant dispensing bodies with weaker links to public sector R&D.

ACIL Allen also reviewed the six growth centres for the federal government and highlighted inadequate funding and the centres’ inability to change the fortunes of the sectors in which they operate.

However the Cooperative Research Centres provide R&D and innovation funding matched by companies and industry sectors to tackle industry problems and spur innovation in product and processes.

The IMCRC has come to the end of its funding life and will close at the end of January, and the IGC’s are also near the end of their lives.

This suggests federal industry minister Ed Husic has a big hole to fill in this space – he has told @AuManufacturing News that he has not given up on the IGC’s just yet.

ACIL Allen found that by strategically investing $35 million of Commonwealth and other funding into projects, IMCRC has generated estimated financial benefits to industry totalling almost $4.2 billion by 2030.

Further benefits to 2030 include:

  • The creation of over 6,000 ongoing full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs
  • The creation of 224 collaborations and new partnerships between researchers and businesses, including internationally, and of 22 new businesses or business models
  • Planned industry investment of $2 billion in future R&D
  • And a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 3,300,000 tonnes CO2.

Science and Technology Director at ACIL Allen Dr John Söderbaum said: “The results of our analysis and the strong testimonies provided by participants in the case studies show that IMCRC’s industry-led model has resulted in significant positive impacts for the Australian manufacturing industry.

“There is also evidence that IMCRC’s approach has encouraged strong and sustained industry and research collaboration for project participants.

“For example, the continuation of collaborative arrangements beyond the end of the IMCRC’s lifespan is a clear indication of the strength of the relationships that have developed over the life of the CRC.

“It shows that the parties involved recognise the value of their collaboration and wish to continue and grow that relationship.”

It is well known that Australian businesses are poor collaborators with the CRC programme well recognised for its success in boosting collaboration.

This suggests that the future of the Industry Growth Centres should include an element of the design of the CRC programme to create similar collaboration opportunities for those receiving grants to improve their facilities or deploy new processes.

IMCRC’s CEO and Managing Director David Chuter (pictured) said the report showed the enormous value of collaborative research and demonstrates its consistent ability to drive innovation and deliver commercial outcomes.

Chuter said: “Industry-led R&D holds the key to further developing our manufacturing sector and building our sovereign capability more broadly, both of which are critical to cultivating the smarter, more complex economy Australia needs to thrive.”

Further reading:

Picture:’s CEO and Managing Director David Chuter

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