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Altech receives commitments for another $2.5 million in investment

Altech Batteries announced on Monday that it has received binding commitments for shortfall shares, following a non-renounceable entitlement offer, raising an additional $2,538,000 before costs. Total proceeds worth $15,838,208 have now been raised, including $3,000,000 from the recent placement, as well as the allocation of $12,838,208 from the Entitlement Offer and shortfall. The company said it had received binding commitments from major German shareholder Deutsche Balaton Aktiengesellschaft, as well as from 180 Markets, for a total of 36,257,139 shares at $0.07 per share, and Altech intends to issue all shares on Wednesday this week (August 16.)  “There has been a great deal of interest from the market in the CERENERGY and Silumina Anodes battery projects,” said CFO Martin Stein. “We believe that the market is becoming more aware of the enormous potential upside to  these projects, as well as the ability and reputation of world leading German government research and  development institute Fraunhofer, Altech’s joint venture partner in the CERENERGY battery project.”

New chair for Geelong Manufacturing Council

The Geelong Manufacturing Council has elected a new Chair, Thys Heyns (pictured), to succeed Lyn George OAM. Heyns, who took on the role last month, acknowledged the significant contribution that Lyn George had made in her four years as Chair and thanked her for continuing on as a member of the Board. He also thanked retiring Board member, Jamie Baensch, whose long standing contribution to the GMC will be acknowledged at the AGM in November. Thys said: “Advocating on behalf of the manufacturing community has been a challenge in recent years and both Lyn and former chair, Jamie Baensch, have made huge contributions for the sector in Geelong and the region.” Thys has 35 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, most recently with Viva Energy as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining Viva Energy in February 2015, he was with BP for 28 years in an international career across four continents that covered Supply Chain, Oil Trading and Refining. GMC Board member and Director of IXL Group, Rob Backwell, has taken on the role of Deputy Chair of the Council.

Swinburne’s new supercomputer supercharges research

Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology has launched its $5.2 million supercomputer that will work on space technology, medicine, and environmental research. The supercomputer has a processing capacity millions of times beyond that of regular computers, enabling groundbreaking research into space, the brain and complex ecosystems on Earth. The Ngarrgu Tindebeek supercomputer received $5.2m from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund (VHESIF) in 2022 and was named by Wurundjeri elders through the assistance of the Moondani Toombadool Centre. It translates as “Knowledge of the Void” in the local Woiwurrung language. Data Science Research Institute Director and 2023 winner of the Shaw Prize Professor Matthew Bailes said: “What used to take researchers and students weeks or months to achieve on their desktops, can now be done in a matter of hours. This supercomputer is designed specifically to help researchers facing massive data sets – like astronomers or neuroscientists – make groundbreaking discoveries. This already makes it such a sought-after machine from scientists in Australia and around the world.” All Victorian universities will be able to use the supercomputer in collaborative research projects.

Starpharma regains rights to VivaGel

Biotechnology developer Starpharma has negotiated a commercial settlement with Mundipharma in relation to its VivaGel BV product for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. Under the agreement Starpharma will receive $6.5 million in cash from Mundipharma, terminate its licence and supply agreements with the company. This will enable Starpharma to sign new licensing arrangements for the product with other healthcare companies. Starpharma said commercial interest had already been expressed in VivaGel, which is now registered in more than 50 countries. The move follows Mundipharma’s sale of its consumer health product portfolio to iNova Pharmaceuticals.

Robotics Australia Group’s new AI and cloud partnership

AI and robotics innovator Cloud Ground Control has entered a new strategic partnership with Robotics Australia Group, Australia’s peak body for the robotics sector. Cloud Ground Control’s cloud-based command and control solution is able to connect unlimited drones and robotic vehicles across air, land and sea simultaneously. It is billed as a solution for missions across commercial and humanitarian applications, specifically search and rescue, surveillance, emergency response, land inspection, beach patrol and more. The partnership will mean a synergy between Cloud Ground Control’s capabilities and Robotics Australia Group’s expertise. This comes at a time when Australia’s sovereign robotics sector is given a powerful boost, following the Federal government National Robotics Strategy announced in April. Cloud Ground Control will be demonstrating its technology at the upcoming AFAC Conference in Brisbane.

AUKUS opportunities spark HDR appointment

Architecture, engineering and planning firm HDR has appointed a new Defence Principal to lead the company’s defence sector in light of the new AUKUS alliance and following the Department of Defence’s 2023 Strategic Review. With 20 years of industry experience, Tim Napper joins HDR from the Department of Defence, where he was a project director in the Capital Facilities and Infrastructure Branch and delivered a multibillion-dollar portfolio of infrastructure projects and programmes. Notable projects include the $3.1 billion Garden Island Redevelopment Subprogram, $1.3 billion Armoured Fighting Vehicles Facilities Program, and the $425 million Mosul Dam Remediation Program. He will work with HDR’s data-driven design team to deliver on Australia’s Defence enterprise priorities at expedited speeds and employ the global Regenerative Design Framework and Tool to support the Department of Defence. HDR has been delivering projects for the Department of Defence for over 30 years and were the first practice to deliver a project under the Managing Contractor model, introduced in 1993.

Virgin Australia/Boeing mentoring partnership begins

The CEOs of Virgin Australia and Boeing Australia have launched the first-ever mentoring program. Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka will personally mentor Boeing Aerostructures Australia’s Finance General Manager Jennifer Hill, while Boeing’s President of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Maria Fernandez will mentor Virgin Australia’s Head of Revenue Management Emma Craighead. Organisational development and inclusion is one of five key areas of focus under the partnership MOU, with other focus areas include sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) development, Australian high quality carbon offsets, First Nations engagement and inclusion, and advancing the ambitions of Australia-US bilateral clean energy cooperation.

Best case scenario on China tariffs not enough to address wine oversupply: Rabobank

Even early removal of Chinese anti-dumping tariffs would not be enough to prevent Australia’s wine industry facing several years of oversupply, according to Rabobank’s analysis in its newly-released Wine Quarterly report. Improving trade relations and the recent removal of tariffs on Australian barley has led to optimism that five-year tariffs placed on Australian wine in March 2021 may be removed early, but the report says, even in a “best case scenario”, with tariffs removed this year and Chinese consumption of Australian wine recovering quickly, this would “not be a panacea”. Australia’s wine industry still faces “at least two years to work through” its current surplus. So large is the oversupply, report author and RaboResearch associate analyst Pia Piggott says, that Australia has the equivalent of 859 olympic swimming pools worth of wine in storage. “That’s over two billion litres of wine, or over 2.8 million bottles of the wine,” said Piggott. The report says Chinese anti-dumping tariffs had led to significant disruptions for Australia’s wine industry, with the value of wine exports decreasing 33 per cent over the past two years.

Draft STEM diversity draft recommendations delivered

Industry minister Ed Husic has welcomed the release for further consultation of draft recommendations to help improve diversity and inclusion in STEM-related careers. The recommendations (available here) were produced by the independent Diversity in STEM Review Panel following a nation-wide engagement campaign, with hundreds of discussions with people and communities across the country. Further feedback is now being sought on the recommendations to help increase participation of historically underrepresented groups of people in STEM. The consultation closes on 8 September, and the panel will deliver its final report to Government later this year. “It’s pleasing to see that hundreds of Australians have already contributed to the review, but there is still time to take a look and have your say,” said Husic.

Picture: Chair of Geelong Manufacturing Council Thys Heyns

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