Australia has a thriving advanced manufacturing sector, but business leaders must embrace the watershed underway in industry confidently and do more to promote the nation’s promise to a wide audience, AAMC Chairman John Pollaers says.
The upper reaches of corporate leadership must do more to communicate the value of innovation and advanced manufacturing to the broader community, Mr Pollaers told The Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit in Sydney last week.
This was the first election in living memory run on the idea of innovation and advanced manufacturing. “This is a great thing,” Mr Pollaers told the forum. “Our political leaders are pushing the conversation, and this must be applauded.”
However, the rhetoric is not connecting with reality for many Australians.
“There are large numbers of people who fear a new world and they long for a time that will never come back. We underestimate the resistance to change at our peril,” Mr Pollaers says.
“As business leaders, we must do better in communicating the significant industrial and technological developments and opportunities that are underway globally.
The AAMC wants to see a concentration of government funding around technologies where we have great prospects– for example, in nanotechnology, in carbon fibre, and in the digitalisation of manufacturing.
This should be implemented through a national framework with a coherent set of interrelated policies, strategies, activities and investments
Government policies, including the current $10 billion worth of research grants, tax incentives and funding for medical, science and technology institutions like the NHMRC, the DSTG and the CSIRO, as well as increased focus on defence industry research show real commitment and opportunity.
Australia has a thriving, world class advanced manufacturing sector with many local manufacturers in fact not only surviving but prospering, and an estimated 2,500 companies tapping new areas of growth in global markets, Mr Pollaers said.
The world is in the throes of a fourth industrial revolution: the merger of the cyber and physical worlds. This follows the historic revolutions of mechanisation, electrification, and automation/IT integration.
The Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce has been established to support the government’s science and innovation agenda and connect Australian industry into global developments.
This special industrial taskforce, chaired by Siemens Australia Chairman and CEO, Jeff Connolly, aims to support Australia’s transition to digitalised industry and to contribute to the development of global standards.
The industrial world is changing rapidly. Digitalisation is transforming design, engineering and production processes, and this onslaught of shocks – technological, cultural, economic, and regulatory – will force businesses to transform every few years.
The government’s $250 million industry growth centres initiative goes to the heart of this transformation, the AAMC says. The centres will build Australian competitive advantage in six key areas: advanced manufacturing; cyber security; food and agribusiness; medical technology and pharmaceuticals; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil, gas and energy.