Deakin University will push ahead with the creation of a $13m advanced manufacturing innovation centre in regional Victoria, after securing a $3m government funding injection for the project.
The university said this week that it would build ManuFutures at Waurn Ponds, a southern suburb of Geelong.
The purpose of the centre is to “lead innovation to support the future of advanced manufacturing in regional Australia”.
It will act as a hub for start-up and established businesses.
“In partnership with Deakin, businesses striving to harness their competitive advantage will combine their capabilities with the university’s creative imagination, industry-focused research strategies and smart business models,” the university said.
It is expected to house up to 15 companies at any one time – “commercial businesses” that will be provided an opportunity to collaborate with other Deakin research centres “including the Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training, the Institute for Frontier Materials, the Centre for Intelligent Systems Research and faculties including Health, and Science, Engineering and Built Environment,” the university said.
The Andrews Labor Government has committed $3 million from its $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, honouring a 2014 election pledge.
The state government hoped the centre would help renew Geelong’s “strong history in manufacturing” and create growth opportunities for regional Victoria.
“ManuFutures will foster and attract a highly skilled, knowledge-centric workforce within the Geelong Innovation Precinct and surrounding regional businesses,” the government said.
“The $13 million facility is expected to create up to 400 full time jobs, boost commercial returns from research for up to 15 advanced manufacturing enterprises and drive the Barwon Region’s transition to high tech, smart manufacturing.”
Manufutures has been on the cards for several years, initially pitched as a much larger $30 million innovation hub that would attract $10 million in state government support from the Napthine Coalition government under an election commitment made in November 2014.
The $30 million investment was expected to be made up of equal $10 million contributions from Deakin University, federal and state governments, according to university council minutes in August 2014.
However, the Coalition went on to lose the 2014 state election.
A spokesperson for Deakin University told iTnews that it had "always planned to contribute $10 million" to the project.
It welcomed the finalisation of Labor's election commitment to the project.
“Deakin University is committed to the communities we serve and ManuFutures is a key part of our commitment to ensuring new industry growth and job creation, not just in Geelong, but throughout the state,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander said in a statement.
“Typically, great Australian inventions are refined and monetised overseas, but in order to compete through a strong economy, Australia must link high technology innovation to new ideas and do so quickly and competitively.”
Deakin University predicted that, once operational, the centre “is expected to increase state output by over $220 million annually, create over 100 direct jobs, around another 300 indirect jobs and increase wages by $34 million each year.”
It did not reveal a timeline for when the centre is expected to be ready.