Chapter 4 - Commercialisation and collaboration

  1. Commercialisation and collaboration
    1. Commercialisation has long been considered a weakness in the Australian innovation system, as noted in Chapter 2.
    2. The Committee heard evidence confirming this problem acutely affects Australian manufacturing. Several submitters commented on the persistent ‘valley of death’[1] for accessing finance between the conclusion of research and development (R&D) but before commercial-scale production. At that point in commercialisation, entrepreneurs can no longer tap government research funding but are often too commercially immature to access conventional bank loans, run a capital-raising round or list on a stock exchange.[2]
    3. Inquiry participants welcomed recent growth in Australia’s venture capital (VC) market, but noted that VC funding is not suitable for many businesses. Traditional manufacturers and small businesses outside the tech start-up sector are unlikely to attract VC or innovation grant funding—and even high-tech start-ups with strong growth prospects can struggle to access suitable finance.
    4. This chapter recaps Australia’s well-known commercialisation challenges. Particular focus is placed on industry–research collaboration challenges and efforts to address them. Collaboration is the key mechanism for translating academic knowledge creation (at which Australia excels) into new patents, technologies and products (where Australia has historically underperformed).
    5. The report emphasises participants’ feedback on government commercialisation and collaboration initiatives that are working well. Participants in this inquiry applauded the roles played by the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) and younger, technology-focused universities.
    6. Submitters also stressed to the Committee the value of physical innovation precincts or hubs[3] and of common user and demonstration facilities (such as Industry 4.0 testbeds, teaching factories and pilot plants). For example, Cooperative Research Australia recommended:

Fostering the collaboration between industry and research organizations through place-based clusters, innovation hubs, and industry-research networks. … Leverage and focus programs such as the CRC program, CSIRO Missions, Trailblazers [that is, Trailblazer Universities], etc. to scale, build critical mass and create innovative ecosystems that self-generate continuous innovation.[4]

4.7The inquiry heard that small and/or traditional manufacturers particularly benefit from common user facilities and testbeds to support their adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies. Such facilities appear to simultaneously address the higher cost, knowledge, confidence and risk barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption by small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

4.8The inquiry also heard that stakeholders would benefit from adopting an ‘ecosystem’ or ‘Team Australia’ mindset to growing Australia’s advanced manufacturing industries, balancing a respect for healthy market competition with more cooperation and collaboration.

Australia’s commercialisation challenge

4.9As noted in Chapter 2, international comparisons show Australia is weak in research translation and commercialisation. This is not a new development. As noted by Dr Paul Savage, Deputy and Science Director of Manufacturing at the CSIRO: ‘It's no secret that the translation part is weak in Australia. There are a lot of really great ideas that don’t end up getting to market’.[5]

4.10The Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016[6] (conducted by Innovation and Science Australia[7] as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, NISA) told a similar story to the Global Innovation Index discussed in Chapter 2. The review included a widely reported national innovation ‘scorecard’, which assessed Australia’s overall performance on different stages of innovation from fundamental R&D to commercialisation.

4.11The system scorecard showed that although Australia ranks well against international peers on ‘knowledge creation’ metrics (such as scientific research and publishing), it underperforms on most ‘knowledge transfer’ and ‘knowledge application’ metrics, such as international patent filings and the percentage of firms introducing new-to-market product innovations.[8] Although this pattern existed before 2016[9], the review noted ‘an apparent lack of urgency and understanding’, and warned that ongoing complacency would ‘endanger the shared prosperity Australians have historically enjoyed.’[10]

4.12Many innovation policy initiatives announced around this time targeted this problem. For example, NISA announcements included policies to help bridge the ‘valley of death’ for entrepreneurs between R&D and commercial production.[11] Other NISA policies aimed to build stronger linkages between researchers and industry, support high-tech start-ups and business innovation, and grow the local venture capital ecosystem.[12]

4.13Based on the evidence heard by this inquiry, the ‘urgency and understanding’ of Australia’s commercialisation challenge—as called for by Innovation and Science Australia in 2016—is now widespread across industry, governments and the research and higher education sectors. Further, manufacturing stakeholders have been paying close attention to which policies and programs are working best for them, and how governments can improve or scale the available incentives and supports.

Value of re-shoring commercialisation

4.14Inquiry participants understood the economic value of commercialising innovations on-shore, to capture a bigger share of global value chains and to deepen sovereign capability and resilience. Stakeholders from diverse industry sectors all expressed similar views on this point. For example, Gilmour Space told the inquiry:

Our Eris rocket is certified as ‘Australian Made’ and includes the most powerful rocket engine ever developed in the country. Manufacturing Eris locally means that we keep jobs, supply chain, and intellectual property here; and it supports our sovereign capability to develop, test, build, and launch rockets and satellites that can deliver significant civil, commercial and defence benefits to the nation.[13]

4.15When advocating for a local ‘patent box’ tax regime (see Chapter 3), pharmaceutical manufacturer CSL’s Vice President of Strategic Industry Engagement, Dr Andrea Douglas, explained:

It is all about trying to keep the intellectual property [in the country]… for longer. It is great that our universities and medical research institutes generate IP here and license it overseas; they will get some royalties back. The amount you get back, and the further along the value chain you can take it before you out-licence—particularly if you can manufacture the products here—we are talking orders of magnitude in terms of growth for Australia.[14]

4.16Australian solar panel manufacturer SunDrive Solar—which is commercialising a cheaper, more efficient solar panel based on copper, with the potential to transform the global industry—told the inquiry:

Australia has made the most significant scientific contribution to the development of commercial solar PV [photo-voltaic] technology. Australia has pioneered solar photovoltaics for 30 years; and 80 to 90 per cent of today’s commercial solar technology was invented in Australian laboratories. This technology generates approximately $50 billion in revenue globally each year, using Australian IP, but almost none of this value is currently captured on our shores.[15]

4.17Similar points were made in relation to other priority areas (see Chapter 6).

Enabling conditions

4.18Despite the clear value of onshore R&D commercialisation, the positive legacy of existing innovation policies, and many individual success stories, this inquiry heard that commercialisation and collaboration remain challenges for Australian manufacturers.

4.19This is especially true for small businesses[16]—and doubly so for those outside the tech start-up ecosystem, or reliant on traditional equipment and methods. These businesses face serious hurdles to upgrading their operations both technically and financially.

4.20As discussed in previous chapters, the inquiry heard evidence that Australia’s financial environment and regulatory settings still largely disincentivise businesses to commercialise Australian R&D and inventions locally. The Committee heard opinion around limited local capital markets, uncompetitive tax rules and cumbersome regulatory processes as possible reasons Australian innovations are usually taken offshore for commercialisation—with the destination country capturing most of the economic and reputational benefit.[17]

4.21This section focuses on collaborative industry–research networks and partnerships as a critical enabler of commercialisation, and highlights the opportunities to support successful collaboration models and projects already working on the ground.

Industry–research collaboration—the promise and challenge

4.22The Committee heard that manufacturers, the academic sector and the economy would benefit from levelling-up Australia’s collaborative and cooperative networks. For example, the CSIRO reported on its finding from manufacturing sector consultations that Australia has ‘Inadequate cross sectoral collaboration, and networking platforms or innovation ecosystems, to learn and contribute to wider pre-competitive innovation’.[18] Similarly, as summarised by Deakin University:

Numerous government-commissioned reviews of Australia’s innovation system over the past decade have consistently demonstrated that lack of collaboration between industry and the research community impede R&D activity, contributing to Australia’s under-performance in the innovation eco-system.

… Universities Australia (2020) suggests that … private sector collaboration brings a return of $4.47 per dollar invested. The Department of Education’s Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements (2015) suggests that the potential increases in business efficiency from collaborative research, relative to uncollaborative research, increases by a factor of three. Similarly, Deakin’s analysis provides evidence consistent with the notion that collaborative research produces more successful patent and innovation outcomes.[19]

4.23The Minerals Council of Australia told the Committee:

The three key areas—we put them in the submission—very much include supporting the next generation, university and industry R&D initiatives and collaborations such as the Trailblazer Universities Program. They’re critical. They better integrate the research between universities and industries. We find that when you have that integration it does make a difference. It translates at the other end. You get better investment from industries and the test beds are much stronger. We really want to support the CRCs and CSIRO-led initiatives. The work that the CRCs are doing is phenomenal, across the spectrum of work.[20]

4.24Facilities and collaborative research projects run by the CSIRO and CRCs featured prominently in the evidence heard during this inquiry, as did common user facilities and innovation precincts/hubs co-developed by industry with technology-focused universities, including participants in the Trailblazer Universities program.[21]

4.25While grateful for such Australian Government initiatives, the diverse participants in this inquiry consistently urged that governments back more and better industry–research collaborative networks and facilities, as a critical enabler to advance Australia’s manufacturing capabilities, keep more of our intellectual property on shore and move into high value-added export markets.[22]

4.26The Committee heard that many of the existing pathways for collaborating with researchers are difficult for time- and resource-poor small businesses to access and navigate, or require substantial advanced technological know-how and capability at the outset. These are serious impediments to Australia’s industrial transformation, given most of our manufacturers are small businesses, and many are still struggling to take their first steps towards Industry 4.0 adoption.

4.27For example, Swinburne University of Technology told the inquiry:

Partnerships with industry, government and the tertiary sector around prototyping, research and digitisation would help to build capability and innovation in an Industry 4.0 ecosystem that would support local SME manufacturers[’] export capability and enable import replacement strategies, strengthening sovereign supply chain capability and creating local jobs.

Many local SME manufacturers would welcome the opportunity to participate in joint efforts with tertiary institutions to develop and manufacture new technology locally if opportunities were available.[23]

4.28Similarly, the Tasmanian Government noted that ‘Limited human and financial resources experienced by many small businesses can make it challenging to invest in and adopt new technologies and practices’ and ‘can also make collaboration difficult’.[24] Deakin University concurred, noting that according to business surveys by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS):

Both micro (i.e. 1-4 employees) and small businesses (i.e. 5-19 employees) cite insufficient time (a proxy measure for resources) and insufficient funds as primary reasons limiting collaboration on R&D (approximately 20 per cent of respondents cited both reasons)… [That is,] ABS data indicates that SMEs are deterred from collaboration by cost factors.[25]

4.29Cooperative networks, common user facilities, Industry 4.0 testbeds and pilot plants were consistently recommended as vital ‘bridging’ mechanisms to help this cohort to adopt modern manufacturing technologies at less cost and with less individual risk.


4.30Australia’s best established and most recognised vehicle for linking scientific discovery to industrial applications is undoubtedly the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Corporation (CSIRO), first established in 1916 as the ‘Advisory Council of Science and Industry’. Its name has evolved, but its purpose continues to be ‘to initiate and conduct scientific research to assist in the development of the primary and secondary industries of Australia’.[26]

4.31The CSIRO plays a key facilitation role commercialising Australian R&D—helping connect industry and academic expertise, and providing access to translational facilities to help bridge the gap between a benchtop-scale ‘proof of concept’ and commercial-scale production. It is also familiar with the commercial landscape. The inquiry heard that:

… CSIRO’s unique position in the research ecosystem drives innovation to advance Australian manufacturing.

CSIRO works collaboratively with local, small to medium enterprises, large companies, government and a whole lot of other groups to improve their products and processes. Our internal structure means that we can offer a one-stop shop for industry. Not only does that include our science, technology and engineering expertise but our people also understand commercial drivers and solve challenges to give a product the best chance of success to get to the market.

Our people, national labs, facilities and equipment ensure that we can provide industry, other research organisations and universities with a pathway to adopt advanced materials, new processing and manufacturing technologies and assist companies to bridge the ‘valley of death’ from the benchtop scale to commercial scale. These facilities enable us to operate test beds where industry can scale up and prototype new inventions to demonstrate a proof of concept without needing to invest in the equipment up-front. …

Our focus areas align with the areas where we see Australia having a key competitive advantage. These include areas like additive manufacturing, biomedical manufacturing, quantum technologies and energy storage, just to name a few. We also have other impact science areas that support Australia’s manufacturing sector across energy, environment, health, minerals and other digital technologies, including our Data61 arm.[27]

4.32The inquiry heard that CSIRO has approximately 6,500 staff (plus students) across more than 50 sites across Australia. About 500 of these staff explicitly focus on manufacturing, across three main sites—Clayton (in Melbourne, with some 400 personnel), Lindfield (Sydney) and in Adelaide.[28] These and other CSIRO sites include a number of translational and demonstration facilities available to advanced manufacturing businesses.

4.33The inquiry heard that CSIRO’s manufacturing priority industry sectors are ‘highly aligned’ with the Government’s National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) priority areas, and include biomed and medtech, defence, aerospace (including space), low-emissions energy materials and devices, cleantech (including recycling), critical minerals and food. The inquiry also heard that the CSIRO’s work is growing rapidly in quantum technologies, digital manufacturing, hydrogen energy systems, energy storage systems, collaborative intelligence and space technology, including through its ‘Future Science Platforms’.[29]

Box 4.1 Manufacturing of non-addictive painkillers for export

The Committee visited CSIRO’s FlowWorks facility for industrial flow chemistry in the Clayton (Melbourne) manufacturing precinct and learned of its role piloting and scaling up local manufacturing of the analgesic Penthrox, commonly known as the ‘green whistle’.

Methoxyflurane or Penthrox is manufactured in Australia by Medical Developments International (MDI). Penthrox is an analgesic used by medical practitioners, the defence forces, ambulance paramedics, sports clubs and surf lifesavers to administer emergency pain relief. It is non-addictive and simple to administer.

CSIRO and MDI have worked together for more than 18 years, developing and improving the initial production process for Penthrox.

CSIRO advises that:

Together, we came up with a smart, efficient manufacturing process that significantly reduces the cost of producing Methoxyflurane while providing a more consistent result.

MDI’s market value has risen from less than $10 million dollars in March 2010 to around $517 million today.

Collaboration with CSIRO has given MDI the capacity to enter new export markets and confidence their supply can match demand.[30]

Penthrox has now been approved for sale in 27 European countries plus the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Taiwan and Mexico. MDI has regulatory approval in Canada. The product approval process is also underway in the United States, Iran, Iraq, South Korea and Russia.

The CSIRO’s Dr Savage told the Committee that MDI is planning to enter the American market to reduce the dependence on highly addictive fentanyl for emergency analgesia.

4.34CSIRO’s program of ‘mission-driven’ science includes national missions in food innovation (such as future proteins), the hydrogen industry, Australian agrifood exports, net zero, various health and biomedical challenges, renewable energy, smart energy (such as smart grids), artificial intelligence (AI) and the circular economy.[31]

4.35In addition to its scientific and engineering expertise and stewardship of translational facilities, CSIRO also serves as a collaboration broker across the different segments of Australia’s innovation ecosystem—working to align expertise and interests across different places, between industry and academia, and with the venture capital community. As explained by CSIRO Director of Manufacturing Dr Marcus Zipper:

We don’t really see our solutions and the opportunity to help industry as being just those 500 people [officially working in ‘manufacturing’]. We tap into any expertise we need, across the whole organisation, to bring to problems, as well as collaborate across the whole ecosystem with universities, other research organisations, industry et cetera. We try to bring the right people together, build the right sized team, no matter where it is in CSIRO or in Australia.[32]

4.36CSIRO’s Dr Savage told the Committee that this role:

… varies from industry to industry, of course. Different industry sectors have different ways of approaching these sorts of things. In my background area, in the biotech/medtech area, we engage through the peak bodies, the industry bodies like AusBiotech and BioMelbourne Network and those sorts of representative organisations. That helps get that connectivity and that relationship going. Another way that we engage is by having good relationships with some of the venture capital community. Obviously, they’re investing in start-up companies. When they identify that those start-up companies have got a gap in their science and technology, they come and tap on our shoulder and say, ‘Listen, you guys have got expertise. Can you help this company?’[33]

4.37Despite CSIRO’s well-earned reputation for original, high-tech science and engineering in its own right, its representatives stressed to the Committee that its commercialisation assistance is available to everyone, not just academic researchers or major corporations with strong in-house industrial research teams. When asked who can actually use their facilities, Dr Savage replied:

Anyone, really. We are open for business to anyone who needs a science and technology solution to a particular problem, or to help them in their growth strategy, to develop new products and processes. We’re kind of a not-for-profit but not-for-loss. There’s a cost involved in that research. We engage with companies on a whole range of different commercial bases in order to help them with those products and processes.[34]

4.38Other evidence to the Committee confirmed the value of such a brokering role. For example, the Committee also heard from R&D co-investment partnership DMTC Limited, which performs a similar function in the context of defence industries:

[W]e regard the stewardship and management of innovation and technology as a specialist business in its own right. It’s often seen as something that just happens. … The answer is that it’s not. You have to marry up the often-competing success drivers of the industrial sector; if they’re not making a profit, they’re not going to be in the industry. … [W]ith a smaller business, their investment in R&D comes out of profit. Often, for a privately held or family-owned business, it’s extraordinarily hard to manage that, so they guard those dollars very well, as well they should. If we look at the research sector, success for them is about publishing, it’s about getting the next grant and it’s about growing their research team, and they tend not to be people who got into the game because they’re profit driven; they’re curiosity driven. You get all of these organisations sitting together in a room and they actually have, allegedly, the same goals but, within that, they have a lot of different success drivers. Managing those collaborations is extraordinarily difficult…[35]

4.39DMTC considered that their success was due in part to their not-for-profit status and focus on strategic rather than financial outcomes. DMTC believed that the additional assurance DMTC will not compete with partners for profit leads to more open and engaged collaboration.[36]

4.40Australia is fortunate to have organisations skilled at stewarding industry–research collaborations. However, for these capabilities to have an impact at scale, potential partners must be aware these organisations exist, and that they offer such support as part of their core business. The inquiry heard that it can be difficult for this information to reach those who most need it. The CSIRO’s Dr Zipper told the inquiry:

We have a whole way of engaging and trying to raise our profile, to let people know what we do, such as social media, marketing, the internet, and going to conferences and events. No matter what we do, we still find companies out there that say, ‘Oh, we didn’t know you guys could do that or that you were involved in that.’ We always try to boost our opportunity to make companies aware of what we do and to come and knock on our door to talk to us.[37]

Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) and similar partnerships

4.41The Australian Government-funded Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) have been mainstays of Australian research–industry collaboration since the CRC program was launched in 1990. DMTC CEO Dr Mark Hodge described the CRC model as ‘one of the massive success stories in Australian innovation; I’m a huge fan of it. DMTC was modelled on that.’[38]

4.42CRCs are government-funded but industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and end users. They are intended to apply high-quality research to solve industry-identified problems.[39] Hundreds of different CRCs have operated over the life of the program, usually in areas consistent with longstanding priority industries and sometimes with the same partners and research focus through successive reincarnations.[40] At the time of this inquiry, more than 20 CRCs are in operation, covering focus areas as diverse as food, batteries, cyber security, finance, autism, the care industry, digital health, mining, energy and transport.[41]

4.43State and territory governments can be partners in CRCs. For example, in its submission, the Western Australian Government noted that:

… as a Key Partner of the Heavy Industry Low-carbon Transition Cooperative Research Centre (HILT CRC), the WA Government is collaborating with industry and researchers to explore ways to transition the steel, iron, alumina and cement industries to reduce their CO2 emissions. This includes using a range of technologies and clean energy sources, including the use of hydrogen and electrification.[42]

4.44Partner research institutions in CRCs span the gamut of Australian universities[43], from younger, technology-focused universities in the Trailblazer Universities program—dedicated to becoming leaders in research commercialisation[44]—through to the more academically oriented Group of Eight, which represents Australia’s oldest and largest universities.[45]

4.45Deakin University noted its role leading the bid for the Regional Advanced Manufacturing (RAM) CRC[46], and its SME-oriented approach:

The challenge is how to foster innovation given 85 per cent of regional manufacturing firms are SMEs. … Most SMEs are connected with their region and do not operate on a global scale, but many have the potential for expansion.[47]

4.46The RAM CRC’s website states that a ‘unique feature of the RAM CRC will be its ability to flexibly support regional manufacturers of all sizes, from start-ups [and] SMEs through to well established and mature public and private manufacturing enterprises’, and across sectors such as agriculture, food and beverage, mining and resources, energy, health and social services, transport and supply chain logistics.[48] Policy recommendations from the RAM CRC’s initial ‘listening tour’ of regional manufacturers—mostly SMEs—are discussed further below.

4.47The Committee also heard of the work of the Future Battery Industries CRC:

The FBICRC is Australia’s largest partnership of industry, government and researchers focused on developing Australia’s battery industry. We have 73 industry participants, invested in 15 research programs valued at $120 million that span the battery value chain from mining through to processing, manufacture, services and recycling and reuse of batteries.[49]

4.48Like the CSIRO, the CRC model can serve as a powerful enabler of research commercialisation and industry capability development. This includes supporting innovation by SMEs. In fact, the CRC-P funding stream was introduced in 2015 specifically to provide a more accessible avenue for SMEs to participate in collaborative projects with researchers.[50] CRC-Ps are shorter-term collaborative projects to develop a product, service or process that will solve problems for industry.[51] Under the current program guidelines, each CRC-P application must include at least one SME as a partner.[52]

4.49However, Deakin University noted the RAM CRC’s findings that most manufacturing SMEs have needs that are not well met by conventional R&D partnerships. Deakin stressed the need for appropriately located and readily accessible common user facilities, demonstration/pilot factories and Industry 4.0 testbeds where SMEs can learn about, experiment with and pilot advanced technologies—cheaply, under trusted independent guidance and at reduced individual risk (discussed in the following section).

4.50Historically, many successful CRCs continued through successive ‘reincarnations’ (such as the CRC for Polymers, renewed three times between 1992 and 2017).[53] However, a 2015 review of the CRC program recommended that ‘CRC funding should be limited to a maximum of up to 10 years with no extension of funding’ in order to encourage CRCs to ‘Focus on the problem that needs to be solved’, consistent with recommendations from a previous review.[54] This recommendation has been adopted in the current program guidelines[55], and several longstanding CRCs have been wrapped up.

4.51The Australasian Railway Association reflected on the knowledge and coordination gaps in their industry left by the closure of a longstanding CRC just as the industry is navigating major opportunities and challenges:

Having a local body to help lead and coordinate research and development (R&D) streamlines innovation, provides access to previous R&D activities and their outcomes, and, depending on the funding structure, helps share the large upfront cost amongst many different firms reducing individual burdens. In this regard, the closure of the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (RMCRC) in June 2020 was a backwards step. Without a national approach to rail innovation, Australia risks missing substantial opportunities in a post-COVID environment, where advanced manufacturing is recalibrating global supply chains to ensure resilient and efficient local supply.[56]

4.52DMTC also expressed concern the requirement that CRCs become self-sustaining or wrap-up after 10 years may work against CRCs’ role as ‘stewards’ of enduring collaborative partnerships, by creating a perceived conflict of interest (arguing CRCs would need to make money from the collaboration in order to continue without government support beyond the funding period).[57]

Box 4.2 Examples of industry–research collaborations

CSIRO’s National Vaccine and Therapeutics Lab inClayton, Victoria, enables biomedical manufacturing researchers to work with industry partners to scale up vaccine candidates for clinical trials.[58] The lab bolsters Australia’s ability to produce vaccines, medicines and diagnostic pathology products.[59] The facility was co-funded by a grant from the Australian Government-sponsored MTPConnect Industry Growth Centre, non-profit Therapeutic Innovation Australia and contributions from industry partners.[60]

The Australian Cobotics Centre at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane brings together expertise and experience from industry and the research sector to improve collaborative robotics capabilities in Australian manufacturing. It also assists businesses in navigating the challenges and changes associated with integrating new technologies for advanced manufacturing. Its aim is to ‘transform traditional manufacturing processes using collaborative robotics and manufacturing innovation and apply the resulting capability to industrial transformation priorities’.[61] It is co-funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Research Program, and by QUT’s industry and university project partners.

The Australian Food Innovation Centre, planned for the La Trobe University Research and Innovation Precinct in outer Melbourne, would ‘draw on the principles of a circular economy to transform advanced manufacturing in the agrifood sector using new investments in research facilities and expertise to build scale for existing industry and to build a local ecosystem for start-up and SMEs[’] growth of agri-food businesses, and the development of Victoria’s advanced manufacturing capabilities.’[62] It is being developed by La Trobe University in partnership with the CSIRO, and ‘will be part of the broader La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster (NEIC), one of seven clusters identified in Plan Melbourne’[63], the Victorian Government’s long-term city planning strategy to 2050.[64]

The Steel Research Hub at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, works on real-life projects in the steel industry.[65] Its purpose is to support the industry’s transition to a more ‘sustainable, competitive and resilient position’, through the creation of new higher value-added products and advanced manufacturing processes.[66] It was co-funded by the Australian Research Council and industry.[67]

Common user facilities, pilot/demonstration factories and testbeds

4.53Research organisations experienced at collaborating with industry were emphatic that traditional manufacturing SMEs need a qualitatively different type of support to adopt advance manufacturing compared with many innovation program offerings at the federal level.

4.54The CSIRO reported on anecdotal evidence from its Future Digital Manufacturing Fund program interactions with manufacturing SMEs, highlighting that major barriers to growth included (among others):

  • Availability of affordable, easy-to-implement Industry 4.0 technology products to enable manufacturers to start the journey and initially test things at a small scale. …
  • Difficulty in accessing sufficient financial capital to fund modernisation, expansion and diversification, each of which often have the adoption of robotics and AI at its core.
  • Uncertainty and mistrust regarding the capabilities and performance of technologies, and about the true costs of innovations…
  • A lack of trusted, straightforward and practical advice on how to make meaningful and profitable progress with robotics and AI. …
  • Small companies do not have sufficient capital to invest in advanced equipment and facilities, especially for higher-risk R&D activities.[68]
    1. Similar observations were made by Deakin, Monash and Swinburne universities, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), the Australian Cobotics Centre, private investment group Tattarang, the Australian Steel Institute, DMTC, Gilmour Space and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU). For example, in its submission, Ai Group noted that many companies do not know where to start with digital technology adoption, and that the current speed of technological change makes it hard even for innovative companies to keep up.[69] DMTC CEO Dr Hodge told the Committee:

To your average SME in Thomastown, Dandenong, Western Sydney or wherever else that might have 30 employees… it’s a very intimidating thing to do. … [A]n SME might be working along and be reasonably profitable, doing its thing off equipment that’s not digitally enabled, and they just don’t know. They know that they have to do it. They’re reading about it in the trade magazines and they know that they will be left behind, and it just generates this sense of anxiety.[70]

4.56With overwhelming consistency, inquiry participants pointed to Australia’s network of common user facilities (or CUFs), pilot plants and Industry 4.0 testbeds—often located in broader innovation precincts—as a key vehicle for supporting small, traditional manufacturers.

Box 4.3 Some examples of common user facilities

The Australian Space Automation, AI and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC)in Perth, Western Australia, is a world-class facility to train, test and control remote and autonomous operations in space and other harsh environments.[71] It was co-funded by the Australian Space Agency, Western Australian Government and Fugro Australia under the Perth City Deal.[72]

The Western Australian Government said it was also investigating the potential for establishing an Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Hub facility in Bunbury.[73]

Science & Technology Australia drew attention to ‘trailblazing prototyping facilities that develop and validate manufacturing techniques’ like ‘the Battery Hub at Deakin University and the Discovery to Device Facility at RMIT University’.[74]

Research Australia noted that ‘NSW is establishing a first-of-its-kind pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines in partnership with all NSW universities.’[75]

4.57Monash University pointed out that advanced manufacturing testbeds such as the Monash Smart Manufacturing Hub address two key barriers for industry: uncertainty on the return on investment, and skills shortages. It advised:

The provision of both physical and digital infrastructure for companies to test advanced manufacturing ideas in the earlier stage can reduce upfront costs, limit down time on existing production lines and demonstrate the return which can be expected. Through the use of such facilities as a training ground for undergraduates, universities can start to offer solutions to companies along with the future graduates who can be hired to implement them.[76]

4.58The submission by the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub in Brisbane called for a network of ‘Factories of the Future’ based on Flinders University’s initiative of that name in the Tonsley innovation precinct, South Australia, which includes test and trial facilities for robotics and automation.[77] The project was also lauded by the South Australian Government in its submission:

The Factory of the Future at Tonsley is an excellent example of a world-class research facility that will modernise and transform manufacturing. The State Government has committed a total of $9 million to establish the Line Zero industrial-scale testing facility and a Manufacturing Growth Accelerator as part of the Factory of the Future that will help at least 100 businesses strengthen their capabilities to enable them to participate in global supply chains, initially in the defence sector. Flinders University will contribute $2 million to the initiative, and the Commonwealth has committed a further $10 million to expand the Factory of the Future.[78]

4.59As Flinders University explained in its submission, its broader Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Tonsley hosts:

  • The Line Zero Factory of the Future facility – a 4000 square metre fully reconfigurable advanced industrial test bed and education and training centre…
  • A Joint Advanced Manufacturing Research Lab with BAE Systems Maritime Australia to collaborate on testing and trialling of advanced manufacturing and digital technologies for potential application to future defence projects.
  • The Digital Transformation Laboratory – a working space at Flinders University focussed on the latest digital technologies related to the full spectrum of manufacturing tasks. The lab is a working showcase of the application of the Digital Twin, enabling industry partners and university researchers to test innovative manufacturing designs prior to construction.
  • The Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub, showcasing certain Industry 4.0 technologies including a cyber-physical facility, and automation, sensor and robotic technologies.[79]
    1. Major industry partner BAE Systems Australia also applauded this collaborative facility in its submission, and recommended ‘consideration of a national expansion of the FoTF [Factory of the Future] concepted developed at Tonsley’[80]—demonstrating that the benefits of such facilities are not limited to small, traditional SMEs. As summarised by DMTC:

Securing ongoing access to infrastructure and growth capital is … a concern from both a research capability and industrial standpoint. The business case for investment from Federal and State Governments in common user facilities is compelling…[81]

4.61This inquiry also heard that facilities to support the testing or scaling up of new products and processes (such as pilot plants and testbeds) could be transformative for onshore R&D commercialisation. As the CSIRO explained:

Without access to pilot plants and similar translational facilities, Australian companies look to international providers to scale prototypes and manufacturing processes for early market testing or entry. These international providers will then often capture the full-scale manufacturing process once the product is launched. If Australia can maintain more of the translational development work on-shore, there is a stronger likelihood of ultimate manufacture remaining here as well.[82]

4.62Science & Technology Australia agreed that governments have a role in supporting the riskier prototype development stage, and also pointed to a potential broader international remit:

Building these types of strategic manufacturing prototyping facilities, with ISO [International Organization for Standardization] accreditation, could create advanced manufacturing hubs that serve both Australia and the broader Asia–Pacific region.[83]

4.63The Committee heard evidence on the potential for both privately and publicly owned common user facilities, informed by an ecosystem mindset. For example, CSL’s Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Mr John Levy, stated:

… we’re going to use the word ‘ecosystem’ a lot because we firmly believe that it is about the overall system. It’s about access to capital but it’s also about access to facilities. Part of what CSL is doing in its new headquarters building, in combination and partnership with the University of Melbourne and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, is sponsoring a biotech incubator which will provide laboratory and office facilities for start-up companies at relatively low cost, as a way of trying to generate some of the infrastructure and build the mass of that small start-up sector, which is very challenging here.[84]

4.64Noting that some of Australia’s larger biomedical manufacturing facilities operate well below capacity, Pathology Technology Australia suggested facility owners could be incentivised to lease access to smaller organisations:

When it comes to having a small run of products, a small batch of prototypes et cetera, that’s relatively easy to do; there’s some capability there. But when it comes to that scalability, people do struggle to find any physical or virtual space to try to create those products. So incentivising companies that have maybe got that capability that might not be using it to its full capacity and letting it out to smaller organisations that want to commercialise would be extremely handy.[85]

4.65By contrast, the AMWU drew attention to the benefits of public facilities in government-owned precincts, where university and TAFE (technical and further education) facilities could co-locate:

A common user facility is, effectively, a strategic industry precinct… which is really co-located manufacturing. It is where the government basically owns the site and invests in a lot of the infrastructure that is there. What they have over there [at the Australian Marine Complex] are strategic things like additive manufacturing, 3D printing and Industry 4.0. They have all of these things that would be quite expensive for small manufacturing and SMEs to invest in right off the bat. It doesn’t make sense for them to duplicate those across many SMEs, so the government provides that infrastructure. … The government then retains the leasing revenue and can reinvest that to ensure that the science stays up to date and the SMEs always have the most cutting edge technology.[86]

4.66The AMWU called for the NRF to invest in publicly owned common user facilities and precincts.[87] The Western Australian Government recommended that ‘The Australian Government should support projects, through the NRF, to build common user facilities that improve infrastructure access, particularly in strategic precincts’[88], and Cooperative Research Australia also noted that the NRF could ‘help build ecosystems with the capacity to create scale at speed, offering opportunities for industry to grow locally by supporting the development of place-based clusters’.[89]

Innovation precincts

4.67A closely related concept to common user facilities is larger physical precincts (sometimes also called hubs or clusters[90]) where organisations with aligned industry and/or technological interests and expertise are co-located. The tenant mix would typically include:

  • a range of small and large businesses participating in the same or similar industries, utilising similar technologies and/or with similar or complementary skills and equipment requirements
  • partner institutions that can provide cutting-edge expertise, laboratory or test facilities, or relevant education and training (such as research institutes, universities and TAFEs)
  • major customers or anchor firms (such as major hospitals, or large industry ‘primes’ such as multinationals).
    1. Precincts offer a highly strategic location for common user facilities, which means there is often significant overlap between the two. The AMWU cited the example of the Australian Marine Complex (AMC):

CUFs [common user facilities] in the vein of the Australian Marine Complex Western Australia have a demonstrated capacity to facilitate the growth of small and medium enterprises, diversify industry, encourage technological adoption, and support the development of advanced manufacturing. The AMC CUF in Henderson is a large, 40ha integrated facility and has supported the development of a world class shipbuilding and maintenance industry in Western Australia. Since its establishment the AMC has delivered hundreds of infrastructure projects and tens of thousands of jobs. The AMC CUF also supports fabrication and manufacturing for the WA mining, oil and gas industries. The Western Australian government maintains ownership of the AMC CUF which provides open access to multiple users.[91]

4.69This inquiry heard of a large number of successful precincts across Australia, servicing diverse industries. They were universally applauded by submitters, who noted that such precincts counter many of the major financial and capability barriers to collaboration and industry transformation noted in this report, particularly for SMEs. Some of the examples described by inquiry participants are shared below.

Box 4.4 Some examples of innovation precincts

The Melbourne Biomedical Precinct in Parkville, Victoria, was described to this inquiry as ‘Australia’s premier Biomedical Precinct’.[92] It is home to the University of Melbourne, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, pharmaceutical manufacturer CSL’s global headquarters, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and two major hospitals. It ‘employs tens of thousands of people’ and attracts more of Australia’s annual competitive biomedical research funding than ‘any other cluster in Australia’.[93] It is supported by a Victorian Government 10-year strategic plan, and the Victorian Planning Authority is developing a land use framework plan for the Parkville National Employment and Innovation Cluster in Plan Melbourne 2017–2050.[94]

The Australian Manufacturing and Materials Precinct in Clayton, Victoria, is home to 40 per cent of Victoria’s manufacturing companies, the CSIRO, Monash University, the Australian Synchrotron and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication.[95] It is part of the broader Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster in Plan Melbourne 2017–2050.

Geelong’s Future Economy Precinct, Victoria, and associated ManuFutures industry hub support new and emerging companies, and focus on creating new products and driving the region’s transition to advanced manufacturing, leveraging Deakin University’s industry-focused research expertise.[96] The precinct was supported through the Geelong City Deal.[97]

Queensland’s Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct is designed to facilitate cross-industry collaboration in the health sector.[98] It is home to Griffith University (including the Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute)[99], major hospitals and the Lumina commercial precinct, being developed by Economic Development Queensland under the Queensland Government’s Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.[100]

Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide, South Australia, brings together research and education institutions, businesses and start-ups, business incubators and accelerators, government and the wider community.[101] The precinct includes the former Mitsubishi Motors assembly plant, which is being ‘completely redeveloped as an integrated employment, education and residential precinct by Renewal SA’.[102] The district is home to over 30 businesses, over 100 members of two co-working spaces, Flinders University and TAFE SA campuses and 6,500 students per year (to increase to 8,500 at the completion of the project). Employee numbers on site are even higher than before Mitsubishi ceased manufacturing in 2008.[103]

Also in Adelaide,Lot Fourteen bills itself as ‘the place where AI researchers and space flight directors intermingle with startup founders and climate modellers’ and where ‘Google Cloud, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are located alongside world-class research institutions, the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre, and the Australian Space Agency headquarters’.[104] It is adjacent to the University of Adelaide (on the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site), and was supported through the Adelaide City Deal.[105]

The Australian Marine Complex (AMC) in Henderson, Western Australia, is Western Australia’s shipbuilding and sustainment industrial precinct, which supports manufacturing, fabrication, and assembly and maintenance for the marine, defence, energy and resources industries.[106] As discussed in the main text, the Western Australian Government owns and manages the site, and it is subject to a Western Australian Strategic Infrastructure and Land Use Plan.[107] Similarly, South Australia’s Osborne Naval Shipyard is considered the most digitally advanced of its kind in the world (see Chapter 6).

In its submission, the Tasmanian Government noted that ‘Tasmania’s main maritime precinct near Hobart is home to globally competitive shipbuilders and product manufacturers, for example: Incat, PFG, Liferaft Systems and CBG systems’[108], and the Hobart City Deal committed federal and state funding towards ‘Realising Macquarie Point as a world class science, tourism, culture and arts hub … through the establishment of an Antarctic and Science Precinct.’[109]

4.70Australia’s major innovation precincts all appear to have been supported by the federal or state governments (often both) through different mechanisms, including direct grants, City Deals, land use planning, direct government commissioning and via participating public universities and research institutes or hospitals.

4.71The prominent role of state government support in successful precincts was clear in the evidence to the inquiry. Precinct development interacts with many of the primary responsibilities of state governments, including land planning and zoning considerations, attracting industry to co-locate near existing educational and medical infrastructure, and investments in local transport, digital and other physical infrastructure.

4.72Federal involvement in such developments has been substantial, but appears to have been haphazard. Australia does not have a strategy on innovation precincts at the federal level, though the Australian Government did release a 70-page Statement of Principles on Australian Innovation Precincts in 2018.[110]

4.73Some of the precinct or common user facility ‘success stories’ heard by this inquiry received funding under the federal City Deals program—though inquiry participants did not note this connection.[111] The current Australian Government has confirmed it will honour existing City/Regional Deals, and has announced new urban and regional Precincts and Partnerships Programs as an element of its urban policy pivot.[112]

4.74The inquiry received several suggestions on where further government-sponsored precincts and/or common user facilities should be located. Deakin University is calling for the establishment of Regional Manufacturing Innovation Hubs across regional Australia, tailored to local conditions:

It is critical these hubs connect with the sense of place and focus on the opportunities for each specific region to grow and thrive through local collaboration and capability.[113]

4.75The AMWU:

… is currently campaigning for the establishment of major CUF [common user] facilities in Western Australia and Victoria. The Western Australian government, along with several private investors, has already committed to an advanced manufacturing CUF in the southwest of WAthat would be significantly bolstered by Commonwealth investment. …

BAE Systems has recently made stakeholders aware that it plans to sell the Williamstown dockyard, a major industrial precinct in Melbourne’s western suburbs. … The AMWU is advocating for the establishment of a heavy engineering CUF at the Williamstown docklands to be owned jointly by the state and federal governments. This would create hundreds of advanced manufacturing jobs for Melbourne’s western suburbs, facilitate the growth of SMEs, and train hundreds of workers.[114]

4.76Such proposals have merit.

4.77The inquiry also heard evidence that new precincts should have access to the transport, digital, housing and community infrastructure needed to sustain their growth. For example, the hygiene product manufacturing peak body Accord Australasia asked, ‘do we have the port and internal transport infrastructure that would support productive advanced manufacturing sectors?’[115] The Western Australian Government noted that the ‘availability of project-ready land and access to key infrastructure, including power, water and gas services, and freight, road, rail and port connections, is critical to attract investment and de-risk new projects.’[116]

An ecosystem with room for competition and cooperation

4.78The word ‘ecosystem’ was used frequently in the evidence to this inquiry, reflecting an approach that combines the benefits of both cooperation and competition for industry development.

4.79Comments from the biomedical sector stressed the importance of healthy research, business and regulatory systems, and the need for a wide range of specialist roles beyond manufacturing itself. For example, Medicines Australia noted:

… advanced manufacturing in life sciences cannot be done in isolation. A sustainable advanced manufacturing sector requires a sustainable life sciences ecosystem to support it. A life science ecosystem encompasses a range of stakeholders, such as researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, regulatory bodies, healthcare providers, and patients, who collaborate to bring new therapies, diagnostics, and medical technologies to market.[117]

4.80Likewise, Pathology Technology Australia CEO Mr Dean Whiting observed:

There are a range of roles within the ecosystem that you wouldn’t think about—biostatisticians, for example, to be able to do the calculations. People who are specialised in making applications to the TGA and to MSAC for getting registration and getting funding are as rare as hens’ teeth in Australia. So when a new company tries to commercialise their products, there’s no opportunity, or very little opportunity, for them to access the resources that they need.[118]

4.81The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences expressed similar views:

Advanced manufacturing does not exist within a silo, it is part of a broader research and innovation ecosystem that must also thrive to incentivise advanced manufacturers to stay in Australia. Optimal advanced manufacturing requires substantial collaboration with the research and innovation sector including universities, research institutes and others. Nurturing this ecosystem starts with adequate investment that could in turn motivate businesses to establish their headquarters in Australia and manufacture in this same environment.[119]

4.82Ecosystems can exist across industries. For example, the Minerals Council of Australia stressed the importance of:

… the settings that drive the establishment of industry ecosystems where there are symbiotic relationships. To take an example of that, a copper smelter can produce copper, but its by-product is sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is feedstock for a chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry. It is also necessary to recycle motherboards and other in-situ metals. Looking at symbiosis, looking at economies of scope and scale to reduce costs, and thinking about how more sophisticated policies can be put in place to facilitate that capital coming into the manufacturing sectors, is fundamental.[120]

4.83The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals highlighted the usefulness of different forms of corporate governance to create a healthy, diverse ecosystem—and for supporting Australia’s high share of small manufacturing businesses to become more productive, higher-employing medium-sized businesses:

  • Co-ops and mutuals are businesses formed to benefit their members, drawn from the stakeholders of the business such as customers, suppliers, employees or people in the local community.
  • The business purpose is different from an investor-owned firm; co-ops and mutuals exist to deliver benefits back to members, rather than profit maximisation to investors. …

Co-operatives facilitate and improve access to export markets for small and medium enterprises. A significant proportion of produce handled through co-operatives is exported and contributes to Australia’s export earnings.[121]

Committee comment

4.84The Committee would like to acknowledge and emphasise the often-unsung initiatives that are seeking to address commercialisation challenges in Australia. Collaboration and co-funding have resulted in many success stories and will, if consistently maintained over time, provide a way to bridge the ‘valley of death’ from idea to commercial reality.

4.85The Committee considers that the CSIRO has and will continue to have an important role in supporting the commercialisation of advanced manufacturing in Australia—both through direct R&D assistance and by brokering connections. The Committee would like to see the role of the CSIRO become better known throughout industry, particularly among SMEs, and recommends that adequate resourcing be provided for the CSIRO to raise its profile within Australia.

Recommendation 4

4.86The Committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has the resources it requires in order to prioritise activities that improve industry–research collaboration and commercialisation in Australia.

4.87The Committee agrees with the consensus among submitters to the inquiry about the value of manufacturing capability ‘ecosystems’ that allow room for both collaboration and competition. Such ecosystems thrive in sweet spots where markets, geography, existing industries, research and educational institutions, and/or federal and state government support align. Common user facilities and innovation precincts that support industry to work cooperatively and collaboratively can help seed and supercharge such ecosystems, and are particularly beneficial for SMEs.

Recommendation 5

4.88The Committee recommends that the Australian Government commit to establishing a series of significant government-owned advanced manufacturing common user facilities in strategic locations across Australia, to make it simpler for manufacturers to access the advanced technologies and infrastructure they need to excel in national priority areas. To be piloted at the Williamstown dockyard in Melbourne, such facilities should align with local industry capabilities and needs. As with other recommendations in this report, programs to support common user facilities should consider the specific requirements of SMEs.

4.89The Committee notes the many successful state-based precincts, testbeds and common user facilities suggested by inquiry participants as candidates for further government support. Consideration should be given to supporting such successful examples to scale their activities and reach, as well as exploring candidate sites for new advanced manufacturing precincts and common user facilities.

4.90While the Committee supports the recommendation of Williamstown as a pilot common user facility, it also recommends that evidence-based research be commissioned to further identify suitable areas. This should include mapping areas of disused or underutilised land, including in outer suburban and regional areas, as well as consideration of existing industrial capabilities and needs near these areas (discussed further in Chapter 6). The research should also identify areas with existing carbon-intensive industries facing transition pressures as Australia and its global export partners decarbonise.

Recommendation 6

4.91The Committee recommends that the Australian Government commission a report on specific opportunities to invest in common user advanced manufacturing facilities and innovation precincts nationally, in collaboration with state and territory governments. The report should:

  • map areas of disused or underutilised land, including in outer suburban and regional areas, and in places currently reliant on carbon-intensive industries
  • identify existing industrial capabilities and needs in candidate locations that could be served by locally appropriate common user facilities or precincts.


[1]See Committee for Economic Development of Australia, ‘Bridging the commercialisation valley of death’, Media Release, 2 August 2015,, viewed 12 September 2023.

[2]That is, to access growth capital from shareholders.

[3]That is, locations that draw together a concentration of expertise and activity aligned around a common technology and/or industry focus area, usually in the same geographic area and anchored by key research and educational institutions and leading employers in relevant industries.

[4]Cooperative Research Australia, Submission 30, p. I.

[5]Dr Paul Savage, Deputy and Science Director, Manufacturing, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 18.

[6]Innovation and Science Australia, Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016, December 2016,, viewed 7 November 2023.

[7]Now rebranded as Industry Innovation and Science Australia.

[8]Innovation and Science Australia, Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016, p. 122.

[9]See for example: RK Shepherd, ‘Culture shift required: improving the economic impact of Australian research’, Australian Quarterly, 1 January 2014, pages 14–20; Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, ‘Translating research into economic benefits for Australia: rethinking linkages’, position paper, October 2013; S Scott, ‘Call for innovation revolution’, Australian Financial Review, 18 November 2009, p. 12; ‘Unis not good at profiting’, The Australian, 19 May 2004, p. 3; ‘CSIRO chief calls for closer collaboration with industry’, The Australian, 3 December 1991; ‘Inventors on road to nowhere’, The Australian, 20 March 1991; ‘Academics and industry’, The Advertiser, 19 December 1989.

[10]Innovation and Science Australia, Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System, p. xv.

[11]Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, National Innovation and Science Agenda, November 2015, p. 6.

[12]For example the Biomedical Translation Fund, venture capital reforms, start-up accelerators and tax incentives for early stage inventors.

[13]Gilmour Space, Submission 31, p. 1.

[14]Dr Andrea Douglas, Vice President, Strategic Industry Engagement, CSL, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 13.

[15]Mr Vince Allen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SunDrive Solar, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 5 July 2023, p. 33.

[16]Swinburne University of Technology, Submission 56, p. 2.

[17]Dr Katie Hepworth, National Political Adviser, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Committee Hansard, Sydney, 5 July 2023, p. 23.

[18]CSIRO, Submission 23, p. 9.

[19]Deakin University, Submission 10, pages 6–7.

[20]Ms Karolina Szukalska, General Manager, Workforce and Innovation, Minerals Council of Australia, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 54.

[21]Department of Education, Trailblazer Universities Program,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[22]Jamestrong Packaging Australasia, Submission 5, p. 5; Cooperative Research Australia, Submission 30, p. 1.

[23]Swinburne University, Submission 56, p. 7.

[24]Tasmanian Government, Submission 46, p. 6.

[25]Deakin University, Submission 10, p. 6.

[26]CSIRO, Our History,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[27]Dr Marcus Zipper, Director, Manufacturing, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 16.

[28]Dr Zipper, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 17.

[29]CSIRO, Submission 23, p. 5.

[30]CSIRO, Delivering the next generation Penthrox ‘green whistle’,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[31]CSIRO, Partner with us to tackle Australia’s greatest challenges,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[32]Dr Zipper, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 16.

[33]Dr Savage, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 17.

[34]Dr Savage, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 17.

[35]Dr Mark Hodge, CEO, DMTC Limited (formerly known as the Defence Materials Technology Centre), Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 36.

[36]Dr Hodge, DMTC, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, pages 40–41.

[37]Dr Zipper, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 17.

[38]Dr Hodge, DMTC, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 41.

[39]Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Cooperative Research Centres Programme: Programme Guidelines, December 2015, p. 2.

[40]Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) and AusIndustry, Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program: CRC Grants over time, December 2022.

[41]Cooperative Research Australia, Cooperative Research Australia Members,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[42]Government of Western Australia, Submission 51, p. 17.

[43]Cooperative Research Australia, Cooperative Research Australia Members.

[44]Department of Education, Trailblazer Universities Program.

[45]Group of Eight Australia, The Group of Eight,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[46]Professor Bernard Rolfe, Associate Dean, Research, Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Built Environment, Deakin University, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 27; Deakin University, Submission 10, p. 2.

[47]Deakin University, Submission 10, p. 5.

[48]Regional Advanced Manufacturing (RAM) CRC, About the RAM CRC,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[49]Future Battery Industries CRC, Submission 39, p. 1.

[50]In response to a recommendation of the Miles Review: D Miles, Growth through Innovation and Collaboration: A Review of the Cooperative Research Centres Program, March 2015, p. 19.

[51]Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Cooperative Research Centres Programme: Programme Guidelines, p. 2.

[52]Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Cooperative Research Centres Programme: Programme Guidelines, p. 5.

[53]DISR and AusIndustry, Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program: CRC Grants over time, p. 14.

[54]D Miles, Growth through Innovation and Collaboration: A Review of the Cooperative Research Centres Program, p. 21.

[55]Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Cooperative Research Centres Programme: Programme Guidelines, pages 6–7.

[56]Australasian Railway Association, Submission 20, pages 9–10.

[57]Dr Hodge, DMTC, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 41.

[58]CSIRO, National Vaccine and Therapeutics Lab,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[59]CSIRO, Submission 23, p. 17.

[60]Hon Ed Husic MP, Minister for Industry and Science, ‘New national lab boosts Australia’s vaccine and drug sovereign capability’, Media Release, 11 August 2022.

[61]Dr Jonathan Roberts, Director, Australian Cobotics Centre, and Professor in Robotics, Queensland University of Technology, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 25 July 2023, p. 8.

[62]La Trobe University, Submission 44, p. 1.

[63]La Trobe University and CSIRO, Australian Food Innovation Centre: Driving innovation and workforce training for the future of food, March 2023, p. 10.

[64]Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Victoria), Plan Melbourne 2017–2050, March 2017.

[65]Mr Mark Cain, Chief Executive, Australian Steel Institute, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 5 July 2023, p. 29.

[66]University of Wollongong, Steel Research Hub,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[67]Australian Steel Institute, Submission 25, p. 6.

[68]CSIRO, Submission 23, pages 9–10.

[69]Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), Submission 53, p. 14.

[70]Dr Hodge, DMTC, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 38.

[71]Government of Western Australia, Submission 51, p. 7.

[72]Australian Government, Government of Western Australia and City of Perth, Perth City Deal, September 2020, p. 8.

[73]Government of Western Australia, Submission 51, p. 28.

[74]Science & Technology Australia, Submission 41, p. 2.

[75]Research Australia, Submission 29, p. 4.

[76]Monash University, Submission 15, p. 3.

[77]Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub, Submission 18, p. 1.

[78]South Australian Government, Submission 6, p. 8.

[79]Australian Industrial Transformation Institute (Flinders University), Submission 9, p. 1.

[80]BAE Systems Australia, Submission 35, p. 4.

[81]DMTC, Submission 32, p. 4.

[82]CSIRO, Submission 23, p. 10.

[83]Science & Technology Australia, Submission 41, p. 3.

[84]Mr John Levy, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, CSL, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 12.

[85]Mr Justin Meredith, Member Manager, Pathology Technology Australia, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 5 July 2023, p. 18.

[86]Dr Hepworth, AMWU, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 5 July 2023, p. 23.

[87]AMWU, Submission 17, p. 7. This also noted a Business Council of Australia recommendation to invest in ‘internationally significant precincts’ in strategic locations.

[88]Western Australian Government, Submission 51, p. 11.

[89]Cooperative Research Australia, Submission 30, p. 2.

[90]‘Hubs’ is often used to refer to smaller-scale industry collaboration precincts or facilities within a single university, and ‘clusters’ can also be used to refer to collaborative networks of participants in a common industry. This section of the report therefore refers to ‘precincts’ for clarity when referring to geographical areas with a high concentration of aligned industry and research activity, whether these are ‘organic’, government-sponsored or (typically) a combination of both.

[91]AMWU, Submission 17, p. 7.

[92]Cell Therapies Pty Ltd, Submission 27, p. 2.

[93]Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, Frequently Asked Questions,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[94]Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, Land Use Framework Plan for the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct – Project Update,, viewed 12 October 2023; Department of Transport and Planning (Victoria), National Employment and Innovation Clusters – NEIC,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[95]CSIRO, Australian Manufacturing and Materials Precinct,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[96]Regional Development Victoria, Advancing Geelong manufacturing,, viewed 18 September 2023; Professor Rolfe, Deakin University, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 28.

[97]Australian Government, Victoria State Government and City of Greater Geelong, Geelong City Deal Implementation Plan, October 2019, p. 23.

[98]Griffith University, Submission 2, p. 1; Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, About us,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[99]Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct, ADAPT,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[100]Welcome to Lumina Gold Coast,, viewed 12 October 2023.

[101]Renewal SA, Tonsley Innovation District,, viewed 18 September 2023; BAE Systems, Submission 35, p. 4.

[102]City of Marion, Tonsley Innovation District,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[103]City of Marion, Tonsley Innovation District.

[104]Lot Fourteen, The future of innovation starts here,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[105]Australian Government, Government of South Australia and City of Adelaide, Adelaide City Deal, March 2019, p. 4.

[106]Development WA, Australian Marine Complex – About,, viewed 18 September 2023.

[107]Government of Western Australia, Australian Marine Complex (AMC) Strategic Infrastructure and Land Use Plan (SILUP), November 2020.

[108]Tasmanian Government, Submission 46, p. 3.

[109]Australian Government, Tasmanian Government, City of Clarence, Glenorchy City, City of Hobart and Kingborough Council, Hobart City Deal, February 2019, p. 4.

[110]Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Statement of Principles for Australian Innovation Precincts: Place-Based Partnerships Building on Competitive Strengths, October 2018.

[111]City and Regional Deals were negotiated partnerships between the federal, state and/or local levels of government for place-based investment, and often included digital and transport infrastructure investment, new precincts and/or facilities, and sometimes policy reforms at either federal or state level, designed to help a region capitalise on its specific strengths and address local needs.

[112]Hon Catherine King MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, ‘Budget 2023-24: Strengthening Australia’s $120 billion infrastructure pipeline’, Media Release, 9 May 2023.

[113]Deakin University, Submission 10, p. 3.

[114]AMWU, Submission 17, p. 7.

[115]Accord Australasia, Submission 40, p. 3.

[116]Government of Western Australian, Submission 11, p. 11.

[117]Medicines Australia, Submission 50, p. 1.

[118]Mr Meredith, Pathology Technology Australia, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 5 July 2023, p. 15.

[119]Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, Submission 19, p. 2.

[120]Mr Demus King, General Manager, Trade, Investment and Investor Relations, Minerals Council of Australia, Committee Hansard, West Melbourne, 3 May 2023, p. 50.

[121]Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals, Submission 28, p. 3, 5–7, 10.