Australian technology startups are well-placed to benefit from more than $100 million in additional funding for advanced manufacturing and research announced in the 2017 federal budget.
Innovation Minister Arthur Sinodinos said in a statement accompanying the budget papers that the new funding is designed to build on the federal government’s innovation agenda, as well as existing programs such as the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Cooperative Research Centres Programme.
The government used the budget to allocate $100 million to establish an Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which will be made up of several initiatives.
The bulk of the funding, $47.5 million, will go towards a new Advanced Manufacturing Growth Fund for capital investment by automotive manufacturing businesses in Victoria and South Australia.
However, the fund will also establish an Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre with $4 million in funding, which will go to small scale and pilot projects conducted by startups and researchers, while $5 million will be funneled into engineering education in universities, technology institutions and industry “to maintain the flow of highly trained engineers to the automotive and design and engineering sector”.
Innovation Labs will also be established in South Australia and Victoria with $10 million in funding. The labs will contain test centre facilities and business development opportunities, which the government plans to deliver through existing government programs and agencies.
“These initiatives will help our manufacturing sector to embrace new technology and new ways of doing things so they can create new jobs by capturing the economic opportunities presented by new markets, like Asia,” said Sinodinos.
The budget also provides $26.1 million in funding for optical astronomical research, and a commitment to continue to provide an average of $12 million a year until 2027-28.
That funding includes a 10-year strategic partnership with the European Southern Observatory from next year.
The Minister said the partnership will give local astronomers “access to the facilities and tools they need to participate in advancing our understanding of the universe”.
“The partnership offers Australia’s astronomers long-term access to front-line astronomical facilities, with opportunities for Australian influence and technical and scientific input, to stimulate research and industry collaboration,” he said.