A new Melbourne-based incubator is appealing for start-ups to sign up in an attempt to kick-start the ailing Australian manufacturing sector.
The VCAMM Innovation Centre at Knoxfield launched in April and is aimed at fostering ‘advanced engineering projects’.
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The centre is seeking five new start-up tenants to add to the existing businesses, which are set to number five within the coming months.
Tenants are offered flexible office space, work stations and IT support. Much of the office space, which goes for around $600 a month per start-up, is shared.
Existing start-ups at the centre include Circa, a chemical refinery business that has been invested in by VCAMM, and Honeylight, an IT company.
Other projects supported by the centre include an aerospace alloy processing start-up, a body armour maker and a cloud computing firm.
The facility is designed to support businesses involved in high-end manufacturing, a broad field that encompasses a range of areas. It will also look to take on serviced-based businesses as tenants.
VCAMM is a non-profit body, backed by the CSIRO and various universities, aimed at boosting engineering innovation in Australia.
The organisation, which is also partially funded by the Victorian government, also provides seed funding to selected start-ups.
Iain Ralph, enterprise development manager at VCAMM, says that the centre hopes to improve the fortunes of Australia’s manufacturing industry, which has suffered badly in recent years from increased competition from overseas.
“There’s a dead zone for many businesses once they get past the lab and theory stage,” he says. “This can provide a working space, as well as links to the industry.
“Manufacturing has to change, but it can do so. The smart money isn’t leaving manufacturing – it is just backing the best technology.
“We have a problem in that we do a lot of research, but we don’t commercialise that thinking into great businesses.
“The high dollar is killing manufacturers at the moment, but there are some great ideas out there and there is an appetite to expand and be successful.”