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Australian manufacturers 'equipped' with stronger research ties

08 September, 2014

Australian businesses now have access to the expertise and experience to build stronger connections between industry and science under the Research Connections stream of the Government's $484.2 million Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Programme.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane met with business representatives from the food industry on the Sunshine Coast, to discuss the benefits to Australian manufacturers as a result of greater links between businesses and researchers, including better access to global markets.

"Research Connections forms part of the industry infrastructure the Government is developing, with a strong focus on equipping small and medium-sized businesses with the skills to collaborate with the research sector to develop new ideas with commercial potential," Macfarlane said.

Tapping into resources

"Too few Australian businesses and manufacturers tap into our scientific and research resources to solve a problem, enhance their productivity or reach into new markets.

"Australia currently ranks last in the OECD countries on businesses research collaboration.

"For smaller businesses the biggest hurdle can be finding the right people with the right skills to link a new product with a market or to help identify what their R&D needs are and then find the researchers who can help.

New opportunities for SMEs

"The Research Connections component of the Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Programme will help small and medium sized businesses with this process.  Businesses will have access to support to identify new opportunities, but most importantly will have access to brokering services to link businesses with researchers.

"Food and agribusiness are chief among Australia's areas of competitive strength, where our high standards and industry expertise give us an edge over our competitors.

"Industry development on the Sunshine Coast shows the diversity of the food processing sector particularly through a focus on specialist and high value-added products.  However, to make sure we maintain our edge and seize new opportunities, Australian industry must continue to evolve.

Key growth areas

"Research Connections will support businesses in key growth areas for Australia - advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, mining equipment, technology and services, and oil, gas and energy resources.

"Experienced facilitators will work with businesses to identify critical and strategic research needs and opportunities, supporting businesses to build their capabilities and enhance their competitive edge."

Businesses with skills, capability, intellectual property or expertise to add significant value to these sectors in the future will also be eligible to apply through Research Connections.

Facilitators may also work with businesses to provide access to up to 12 months of financial assistance in the form of a matched funding grant of up to $50,000. The funding will support direct access to research resources, including the use of research facilities or the placement of a researcher in the business.

The Business Management stream of the Entrepreneurs' Infrastructure Programme which opened in July will also now focus on providing targeted support to businesses operating in the five identified growth sectors and their enabling technologies and services.

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