New industry-led centre to help transform Australian manufacturing

An ambitious venture to transform Australian industry has been announced by the Hon Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Science. The new Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) is designed to accelerate Australia’s transition into high value, knowledge-based manufacturing and brings together a powerful coalition of businesses and researchers.

The IMCRC is a collaboration of:
•    14 manufacturing companies and end-users who are already global, innovative and prepared to innovate further
•    Four peak industry associations who will facilitate access to research talent for thousands of Small to Medium Enterprises
•    16 Australian universities, CSIRO and the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology.

The University of Melbourne has provided significant leadership to the development of the IMCRC that will engage leading researchers from Engineering, Economics and Commerce, Medicine and Science. Its head office will be based in Melbourne at the University’s Carlton Connect Initiative and will operate from nodes around the nation.

IMCRC Interim Chair and University of Melbourne alumnus, Dr Peter Jonson, said the decision to establish the IMCRC is visionary and provides an exciting opportunity for Australian manufacturing.

“We will be part of a powerful movement to transform the future of Australian manufacturing,” he said.

“Key members of this exciting cooperative venture will hit the ground running to help transform manufacturing in Australia. Ten major industry-research cooperative projects are ready to start just as soon as necessary formalities are finalised,” Dr Jonson said.

The Commonwealth’s grant of $40 million will be matched by more than $210 million of cash and in-kind contributions from industry, research institutions and State governments that will lift the total budget to over $250 million to seed the process of transformation.

The IMCRC’s four research themes will deliver high-impact programs of collaborative research to intersect with challenges of Australian industry. The IMCRC will focus on the needs of industry, which will be met by emerging technologies delivered by Australia’s finest researchers. IMCRC’s multidisciplinary research programs will provide significant benefits to participants and create important insights to be shared with the wider industry community.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Liz Sonenberg, said the University has been delighted to support the development of the IMCRC over the two and a half years of its gestation.

“We are excited to be able to be a part of this venture and particularly pleased to host the Head Office of this nationally important Centre in the newly established Carlton Connect Initiative’s Lab-14 Building. The Carlton Connect Initiative provides a focal point for integrating the University’s education, research and engagement activities that support innovation and entrepreneurship.

“This is an ambitious strategy to unite talented people who share a vision to tackle some of our biggest sustainability and social resilience challenges and a passion for designing new ideas and technologies to help secure Australia’s prosperity,” she said.

The University’s Professor Robin Batterham, former Chief Scientist of Australia and a member of IMCRC’s Interim Board said the IMCRC will be focussed on helping companies create new products and new businesses, assisted by an experienced team of researchers including scientists, engineers and business innovation experts.“Manufacturing in Australia has a bright future.  It will involve change and it will involve innovation. It is about more science but primarily it is about more innovation – that is, when something new hits the market of end-users prepared to pay real money,” he said.