Front of the Manufutures building beside grass

Accelerating into the global marketplace

Up and coming Australian advanced manufacturing businesses will become globally competitive, thanks to a new program from Deakin University’s ManuFutures.

ManuFutures, located at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, is a purpose-built advanced manufacturing business incubator in the heart of Deakin’s Geelong Future Economy Precinct. The facility offers flexible manufacturing spaces, collaborative working areas, centralised corporate facilities, project management and mentoring support, and access to Deakin’s specialist technologies, equipment and expert researchers.

The ManuFutures Export Acceleration Program (MEAP) is designed to support the global scale-up of businesses operating in ManuFutures. The funding will support inbound and outbound trade missions as well as business development capability and capacity building seminars and workshops.

ManuFutures Director Jason Steinwedel said MEAP was developed in consultation with ManuFutures tenants.

“At Deakin, we’re helping these businesses establish themselves locally and then produce output to a global audience,” he said. “We wanted to be able to make it happen quicker.”

In December last year, ManuFutures received a $500,000 investment from the Federal Government to develop MEAP, with an additional $50,000 from the City of Greater Geelong. The funding will allow ManuFutures to assist in bringing forward export plans that would otherwise take much longer.

“We’re going to use the funding to develop bespoke assistance packages for each of the businesses, giving us the opportunity to address specific needs, identify specific markets and target activities that will have maximum impact. The long-term aim is to instil the knowledge and capacity in each of our businesses to become global players in their markets. Mentors with global market knowledge and a variety of skills development workshops and forums are also going to be provided,” Mr Steinwedel said.

Aside from subsidising trade missions, mentors and workshops, the funding will be used to identify future manufacturing entrepreneurs. In partnership with the City of Greater Geelong, ManuFutures will host six events over the next two years, where emerging businesses will be introduced to the program and how they can benefit from it, building a pipeline of innovation and advanced manufacturing companies well into the future. In time, these businesses will replace the current batch of 11 ManuFutures tenants.

“We want the businesses we have with us now to outgrow the space they’ve got and move into something bigger and better, but also maintain their links with Deakin,” Mr Steinwedel said.

ManuFutures businesses have already benefited from similar programs to MEAP. Partington Advanced Engineering has reached pre-production of its first-generation high-end carbon fibre bike wheel product, while HeiQ Australia is exporting its advanced textile chemistry into its supply chain for process testing. Conflux Technology has refined the design and production processes of its launch product, an integrated heat exchanger, and achieved significant international market interest already.

ManuFuture’s location gives tenants the opportunity to work with Deakin’s cutting-edge research facilities at Waurn Ponds, such as the Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET), the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI), the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2) and the Institute for Health Transformation (IHT), while leveraging the combined knowledge of areas across the University.

Tenants can also benefit from the work-integrated learning, internships and postgraduate opportunities offered to Deakin students.

“That’s the whole premise behind ManuFutures,” Mr Steinwedel said. “It’s not just a space where you can rent a spot and go about your daily business. We’re here to help you become the best that you can be.”

Melina Bunting
Staff writer

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