Manufacturing news briefs — stories you might have missed

BluGlass GaN lasers are meeting performance benchmarks
ASX-listed semiconductor developer BluGlass said on Thursday that gallium nitride laser diodes produced at its Silicon Valley production facility are now achieving or exceeding contract manufacturer performance benchmarks. According to the company, testing of the first lasers processed at its Fremont fab are demonstrating electrical and light-output performance in-line or better than previous iterations, follow successful transition of p-side processing from contract manufacturers to the site. Reliability testing of these lasers has commenced. President Jim Haden said, “This technical milestone demonstrates the importance of operational control in accelerating development turns.”
CEPI will provide up to $US 4.3 million to Vaxxas to advance HD-MAP for mRNA vaccines
Brisbane-headquartered vaccine technology company Vaxxas’ and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced this week that a partnership agreement had been signed to progress Vaxxas’s’ needle-free vaccine-patch delivery technology (pictured.) CEPI will provide up to $US 4.3 million ($6.4 million) for preclinical testing of Vaxxas’ delivery platform, the a needle-free, high-density microarray patch (HD-MAP) to assess its stability, safety and immunogenicity and to evaluate its potential as a rapid-response technology for heat-stable, dried-formulation mRNA vaccines. The platform offered many potential advantages over more traditional ways of administering vaccines, said CEPI, for example the dried form of the vaccine is more stable at higher temperatures than vaccines in liquid formulations. This week Vaxxas was also awarded a federal government grant through the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) program.
Unemployment rate stayed at 3.5 per cent in December
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 3.5 per cent in December, according to data released on Thursday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The ABS head of labour statistics Lauren Ford said: “With employment decreasing by around 15,000 people, and the number of unemployed increasing by 6,000 people, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.5 per cent. The seasonally adjusted participation rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 66.6 per cent in December, back to around where it was in October. Despite this slight fall from its historic high, it finished the year 0.8 percentage points higher than its pre-pandemic level.” Seasonally adjusted employment decreased by 15,000 people (0.1 per cent) in December, following an increase of 58,000 people in November and average monthly growth of around 40,000 people between August and November 2022.
Federal support upped for WA rare earths project
This week the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) announced it will provide a $220 million loan to Hastings Technology Metals to help fund construction of a rare earths mine, processing plants and associated infrastructure. Yangibana will deliver a mixed rare earth carbonate product into the global critical minerals supply chain, helping meet demand for technology for decarbonisation. Yangibana has high-quality concentrations of neodymium and praseodymium, which are key in the manufacture of permanent magnets used in electric vehicles, wind turbines, robotics, medical applications, and digital services. NAIF had previously approved a loan of $140 million, however it has agreed to increase that amount to reflect rising costs and the recent strength of magnet rare earth prices. Rare earth ore will be mined, crushed and concentrated at Yangibana, before being processed in Onslow into a Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate and then shipped.
Bio-Gene Technology receives $446,000 R&D tax incentive
Agtech company Bio-Gene Technology announced on Friday that it has received a $446,000 research and development (R&D) tax incentive from the Australian Taxation Office. The company, which is focussed on next-generation insecticides to address insecticide resistance, said the incentive was for R&D costs incurred in the 2021/2022 financial year, and relates to both Australian and eligible overseas expenditure for the development of the Company’s products Flavocide and Qcide. Richard Jagger, CEO & Managing Director of the company, said the payment “further strengthens our balance sheet and will be reinvested into our ongoing commercialisation and development programs.”
Contributions invited on Jobs and Skills Australia
The Australian Government has released a discussion paper requesting feedback from state and territory governments, employer bodies, unions, tertiary providers and community organisations on future arrangements for the permanent Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA). Minister for skills Brendan O’Connor said JSA is a key priority and an important part of addressing the national skills crisis.
“We need to be sure that when we’re investing billions of taxpayers’ dollars in skills training, that it is going to fill critical labour market shortages in the economy,” he said on Friday. “That can only be done working with our partners to collect the right information to identify the skills Australians need. Great analysis and forecasting from JSA is a prerequisite to ensure we are prioritising and planning for the skills we need.” The discussion paper and submission information can be found here.

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