USQ-led sustainable regional manufacturing hub awarded $3.35 million funding

A new regional manufacturing-focussed research hub led by University of Southern Queensland has been announced, with $3.35 million in federal government awarded to the initiative on Wednesday.

The Sustainable Industry Manufacturing Planning for Long-term Ecosystems (SIMPLE) Hub would involve USQ, Southern Cross University and University of Queensland, as well as the USA’s West Virginia University. 

According to a statement from USQ, it is concerned with “developing new products and processes to support regional manufacturing priorities such as waste recycling/upcycling.”

“External factors such as COVID-19 and extreme weather events have exposed the vulnerability of national and global supply chains that keep the manufacturing industry moving, including getting products to customers (for example, food on grocery shelves or building supplies for the construction industry),” said Associate Professor Polly Burey (pictured in front) a food scientist and the project lead.

“There is a great deal of work being done in this space but a tailored approach is needed to develop solutions specific to regional communities and build cross-sector industry ecosystems that support new circular economies.”

External partners for the SIMPLE Hub at this stage include Oilfield Piping Systems, Darling Downs Health, Jennmar, Impacts, Venlo, Plungie and Australia Sunlight group, with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and CSIRO on its advisory committee.

Regional education minister Bridget McKenzie also emphasised the circular economy research the Hub was expected to contribute, “playing a key role in how we design and develop new products for green energy, resource recovery and waste recycling” in alignment with national waste reduction targets.

“The project will [also] create a pipeline of industry-ready researchers and innovators for regional manufacturing to develop a new circular economy.

USQ was part of a recent unsuccessful Round 23 Cooperative Centre bid from the Regional Advanced Manufacturing CRC.

The SIMPLE Hub was one of five projects announced yesterday in a $19 million round of funding through the Regional Research Collaboration program.

Picture: The SIMPLE Hub project team (USQ)

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