Budget 2017: a glimmer of support for innovation and advanced manufacturing


Drew Evans, University of South Australia

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s 2015 National Innovation and Science Agenda was a call to arms for Australia’s research and industry sectors to collaborate and drive our economy. The Conversation

One and a half years on, you’d be excused for thinking a few pages of notes were missing from Budget 2017. Specifically no comment was made about the vision of where our great “ideas boom” was taking us – setting the scene to unite industry and researchers alike.

For manufacturing there was a glimmer of hope in the announcement of A$100 million to boost innovation, skills and employment in advanced manufacturing.

It addresses people, know-how, process and partnerships. If connected into a strategic plan there could be benefits for businesses as the manufacturing sector redeploys into new activity.

However, it does appear narrowly focused on the here and now for closed and closing automotive manufacturers.

In the absence of linkage with the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the pending 2030 Roadmap from Innovation and Science Australia, and comment on the research and development tax incentive review, the A$100 million may be an expensive band-aid.

Capital upgrades

The funding announcement refers to A$47.5 million for a new Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund to support South Australian and Victorian manufacturers for capital upgrades to “make their businesses more competitive through innovative processes and equipment”.

My experience of project work with manufacturing companies is that capital cost of equipment (capital expenditure, or “CapEx”) has never been a roadblock to growth and success.

When the business case stacks up, CapEx is easily justified. The business case is built upon having the right people and know-how in the business.

In isolation the drive to purchase new equipment presents no value to business, and may even lead to stranded assets. But coupled with people and know-how, opportunities may come.

It’s important to recognise that right now, existing manufacturers are looking at how to utilise and/or redeploy their existing assets. In particular the automotive parts manufacturers are seeking new opportunities that match with existing equipment.

An example is a company that I am working with, Precision Components in South Australia. They are redeploying their large metal presses previously used in car component manufacturing to create components for capturing solar energy at HeliostatSA. It’s a project that has contributed to export capability for HeliostatSA.

Redeployment is the focus for many businesses today, not new equipment.

Small scale research projects

The funding announcement refers to A$4 million to support small scale and pilot research projects in advanced manufacturing, administered through the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre.

This seems like a good move.

Boosting innovation requires broadening the base of businesses looking to grow, and collaboration with university research programs is one way to achieve this. Small grants build confidence in collaborative partnerships, and help to clarify what the innovation is and its future return on investment.

For example, the government’s Innovation Connections scheme has had success in seeding innovation and collaboration.

A recent recipient of an Innovation Connections grant, company Sentek Pty Ltd, is utilising this scheme to fund new product development, and to underpin justification for future and larger investment. I am collaborating with Sentek on this project.

Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Projects

The funding announcement refers to A$20 million under the Cooperative Research Centre – Projects initiative for larger scale advanced manufacturing research projects.

This funding should be warmly received.

The CRC program links researchers and industry, with the aim of delivering economic value to the industry partner and the sector more broadly. This scheme funds the real costs of research, develops skills in people, and incentivises transitioning knowledge out of the university.

The newly formed CRC Projects scheme is in its infancy, with industry firmly in the driving seat for administering the projects.

From the first two rounds of funding under the CRC Projects, a total of 28 projects have been funded. Each project has seen a co-investment from industry, universities, other research institutes, and the federal government.

Crunching the numbers for the funded projects shows, on average, the government invested A$2.04 million per project. This indicates that the new A$20 million of funding could support around an additional ten projects. This will stimulate activity and add value to our advanced manufacturing sector.

Innovation Labs

The funding announcement refers to A$10 million to establish Innovation Labs in South Australia and Victoria to serve industry.

It’s difficult to know what this means in reality.

Perhaps the purpose is to provide facilities for early stage innovation to be tested at minimal expense, and reduce the risk of the business making significant investment in infrastructure.

Perhaps it will allow researchers or companies to shore up concepts before seeking investment and raising capital. Maybe existing facilities will seek financial support to expand their remit across a diverse advanced manufacturing sector.

A topical example relates to additive manufacturing – generally known as 3D printing. Businesses producing 3D-printed products need a testing ground to conduct certification and accreditation of products prior to sale. The Innovation Labs could fill this void, and complete the link between laboratory research and commercial product.

Engineering excellence

The funding announcement refers to A$5 million investment in engineering student research at universities, technology institutions and in industry to maintain the flow of highly trained engineers to the automotive design and engineering sector.

At the heart of innovation are people.

Engineers represent one discipline that contributes to the pipeline of innovation. An investment to see the continual training of excellent engineers may address the loss of traditional career pathways.

Perhaps the funds will aid in restructuring of engineering education towards emerging opportunities in the health and medical, agriculture, renewable energy and other sectors.

As more details come to light in the coming weeks and months, the Turnbull government’s vision for Australia’s manufacturing future may become clearer.

But the sense from the manufacturers themselves is that they will just get on and do it anyway.

Drew Evans, Associate Professor of Energy & Advanced Manufacturing, Australian Research Council Future Fellow, University of South Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Innovation in the Church


The article below is about some more modern day rubbish that has infiltrated the church.

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100910/christians-challenged-to-stop-ignoring-innovators-early-adopters/index.html

ANOTHER GIMMICK: Text Messaging Questions to the Preacher during the Sermon


Is this a gimmick or a legitimate innovation for preaching? During sermons, the Rev. Mike Schreiner of Morning Star Church (United Methodist denomination), allows text messages to be sent off – to him that is, with questions relating to the sermon.

The so-called ‘Director of Worship,’ Amie Haskins, receives the messages on the church mobile phone. These she screens and then types questions into a keyboard to be sent via a computer connected to Schreiner’s lap top in the pulpit.

With the questions appearing on his screen, this allows Schreiner the ability to answer relevant questions during the sermon.

The text messaging also engages the young people of the church and they listen more intently than they did before.

The text messaging is part of the wider ‘technological ministry’ operating at the church, which includes lighting controls, presentations on the large screens above the stage, wide-screen plasma monitors in the church’s coffee shop in the lobby, etc.

Apparently the texting fad is taking off across the US and is even used to some degree in the Mars Hill Church at Seattle.

Part of the philosophy behind the texting fad seems to be to be more appealing to people so that they come to church and get more involved in what is actually happening. Undoubtedly this would be an attractive and seemingly successful method for getting people involved and coming along, especially those who love their gadgets these days.

I am sure that texting has its place in the ministry of any modern church and can prove very useful to send messages to large numbers of people at once and for keeping in touch, however, the use of texting in the local church context seems to me to be out of place.

Preaching ought not to be confused with teaching, with the two being different aspects of a church’s ministry. Certainly any true preaching will include teaching, but teaching need not include preaching. Preaching is the authoritative declaration of the Word of God to the people of God by the God-called preacher of God. He comes with a message that is to be heard by the people of God for the people of God. The message is not to be tailor made to the felt needs of the people sitting in the congregation nor is it to be modified to suit the desires of those sitting there as expressed via texted questions to the preacher.

The danger is that the preacher will be moved away from his task and go off message to pursue certain tangents that may not even have been the course he intended to take as the messenger of God to the people of God. He comes with the Burden of the Lord and he must speak and be heard as that messenger.

Preaching is a declaration and explanation of the Word with relevant and searching application and as such is not a dialogue, no matter what form that dialogue might take.

For more on this read the article on texting in church at:

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/religion/story/EC394B244877FB16862574CD00081AAD?OpenDocument

 

 

 

 

BUSH HERITAGE AUSTRALIA – Update September 2008


One of the groups I have a lot of time for in Australia and one which I am planning to support in a more active way in the New Year (once I get back on my feet so to speak) is Bush Heritage Australia.

Bush Heritage Australia is actively seeking to protect 1% of Australia by 2025, ensuring the protection of our unique flora, fauna and wild places. This is done through purchasing land by money donated to it by those wanting to protect the Australian environment and natural heritage. Bush Heritage currently owns some 1 million hectares, meaning it needs to acquire a further 6 million hectares to obtain its 2025 goal.

In September 2008, Bush Heritage Australia purchased the 8 100 hectare Edgbaston Station, 140km north-east of Longreach in Queensland for 3.5 million dollars. In doing so, Bush Heritage has ensured the survival of Australia’s most endangered and smallest freshwater fish species, the Redfin Blue-Eye Fish. This region is the only location in which this fish species now lives.

But it is not only the Redfin Blue-Eye Fish that will be protected by the purchase of this property as this region and the springs found on the property is the only known habitat for several other species of fish, snails, plants and a crustacean.

The springs on Edgbaston Station are located in the upper catchment of Pelican Creek which flows into the Thompson River and Lake Eyre. There are some 50 artesian springs on the property, supporting a large diversity of life.

The 3.5 million dollars required for the purchase of Edgbaston Station included 1.324 Million dollars from the Australian government’s Maintaining Australia’s Biodiversity Hotspots program and donations from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water and the Queensland Department for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation.

Bush Heritage will be working alongside of the Iningai people, who are the traditional owners of the land on which Edgbaston Station is located, to manage the property.

For information on what you can do to assist Bush heritage Australia or to get more information on any of the reserves managed by Bush heritage Australia visit the web site below.

http://www.bushheritage.org.au/