Australia ranks poorly in global measures associated with investment in innovation. According to the graduate business school, Insead, we are 81st in the world in terms of the efficiency of our innovation system. There is no doubt our manufacturing sector stands at a significant crossroad: we have the looming automotive exit, the strong Australian dollar, our high wages and standard of living.
We quite rightly do not want to prop up uncompetitive industries.
Nor do we want to be a customer only of the world’s knowledge markets.
Our first world lifestyles cannot be sustained as predominantly buyers of the world’s high value goods and sellers of low value raw materials. Ultimately, something has to give.
The Australian economy – as we hear from the Reserve Bank, from corporate leaders, from other business organisations and from our economists – is exposed to significant risks from the combination of the end of the mining boom and the global financial crisis and its aftermath.
We need to set about correcting the imbalances that have emerged.
This is both for our longer-term resilience and to fill the growth gap that is becoming more and more evident as the mining boom retreats.
At the same time, we’ve become trapped within an old framework of understanding what our manufacturing sector actually is.
This trap has tended to divert our industry policy discussions.
Despite a growing number of Australian manufacturers transitioning successfully in terms of production technologies, in terms of their company organization, in terms of specialist expertise and higher-value activities, we hear mostly of the failures.
There is, in fact, no shortage of companies turning their focus to successful new areas of growth and tapping into multinational supply chains.
Many of them are significant players in the global marketplace. We showcase a number of the rising stars here.
One of the starting points for Australian manufacturers, many of them small and medium sized, is understanding what business outcomes advanced manufacturing offers them.
The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council is a CEO-led initiative driving a better understanding of the opportunity – and fostering the capabilities and industry-friendly framework needed for more of this kind of success.
We encourage you to get in touch with us to find out more
This has been adapted from a keynote delivered by John Pollaers to the Advanced Manufacturing Summit, hosted by Ausbiotech in November, 2014.