Senator Kim Carr has formerly launched the Rudd Government’s $251 million Enterprise Connect network, which comprises five manufacturing centres and five innovation centres focused on creative industries, clean energy, mining and regional businesses.
Just a week after cutting the $700 million Commercial Ready program, Carr used a speech in Melbourne to trumpet the Government’s unwillingness to let the “invisible hand” of the market determine the fate of Australian SMEs. “We believe it’s our job to support Australian industry by investing in education, innovation and infrastructure.”
The Enterprise Connect network will offer SMEs the chance to work with business advisers to benchmark their businesses against best practice, get advice on commercialisation and adapting technology and cut through red tape. Carr also wants the network to be linked into other organisations including business groups, state governments and other federal agencies such as Austrade.
“This will enable us to build up a permanent, readily accessible and truly national knowledge bank – a storehouse of information about what research is being done, what research SMEs need, what trends are developing, what technologies are available to meet those trends, and much, much more,” Carr said in a speech last night.
The Enterprise Connect network essentially replaces the Howard government’s Australian Industry Productivity Centres program, although the new program will receive $16 million a year in extra funding.
But exactly how the Enterprise Connect network and the manufacturing centres will function is yet to be decided, and Carr will take advice from the Manufacturing Network
Interim Advisory Board about how the network should function. The board will be chaired by Jim Walker, chief executive of QMI Solutions, a not-for-profit manufacturing advisory organisation based in Queensland.
And while it has been announced that there will be manufacturing centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Burnie, the physical locations of these centres are yet to be determined.
Businesses interested in having a business review conducted by one of the network’s 45 business advisers can download an application form from the Enterprise Connect website.