New funding offered to South Australian early-stage startups

New funding offered to South Australian early-stage startups

A $28 million assistance program has been launched by the South Australian government to encourage growth for the state’s science, research and startup sector.

The $28 million Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund will target new and existing business and research enterprises in South Australia, with a focus on Lot Fourteen, the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site that will house a new innovation and defence hub.

Chief Entrepreneur for South Australia Jim Whalley said the funds will support activities designed to further build the state’s local startup ecosystem.

“South Australians aren’t short on creativity, what we require is networking and mentoring opportunities and financial support to turn ideas into viable businesses,” said Whalley.

The assistance program has three funding streams. Stream one will support research initiatives that will create innovative solutions or translate research into industry or commercial outcomes that address economy-wide challenges for South Australia.

Stream two provides participants with access to funding to grow their innovative early-stage business and is divided into three pathways: 1:1 matched funding of up to $100,000 to fund a startup’s early stages; 2:1 matched funding of up to $100,000 for early-stage startups partnered with an incubator, accelerator or value-add investor; co-investment of $100,000 – $1 million alongside private funding designed for companies addressing a known gap in the market with significant private investment.

While stage three aims to build South Australia’s startup ecosystem by supporting programs, events and activities that have broad benefit to the startup community.

Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni said the fund will be managed by the Department for Industry and Skills to support proposals that build industry research and development in the state.

“The objective of this $28 million fund is to contribute to economic growth by supporting collaboration between enterprises, researchers and universities, and encourage the establishment and growth of startups in South Australia,” said Minister Pisoni.

The fund will compliment the existing Economic and Business Growth Fund and the Regional Growth Fund to drive growth for South Australian enterprises.

South Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Caroline McMillen said science and research innovation is essential to supporting the emergence of new businesses.

“This Fund will build the talent, infrastructure and collaborations required to attract investment and grow a strong knowledge-based economy in South Australia,” said McMillan.

“We encourage scientists together with their business partners to engage with the Office of the Chief Scientist to discuss how to take up the opportunities this Fund provides.”

Originally published at The Lead by Lizzie Rogers

How to Protect your Business with the Right Insurance

empty factory


When you have built your own business from the ground, you’ll do anything to protect it.

Taking precautions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff and contractors is one part of giving your business the best insurance, as taking out sufficient fire, theft, vehicle and property insurance.

But what about the lesser-known factors which can cause damage to your manufacturing company? Let’s break them down and look at how you can get the best protection.

Business interruption

To make sure you are able to remain open after a serious claim event, you should safeguard your company with important insurance covers like business interruption and management liability. Certain risks can jeopardise your company, so you need to make sure your business interruption and management liability risks are covered with market policies, which will provide the benefits you will need in the event of a claim.

Public and products liability including statutory liability (fines and penalties)

The government are particularly strict about occupational health and safety, so it’s important to have the correct policies and procedures in place, but it’s also crucial to have insurance to protect you from statutory risks that may occur.

Machinery, computer and electronic breakdown

When the equipment breaks down in any manufacturing situation, it can spell disaster for many businesses. Luckily, you can be insured for this to avoid loss.

Professional Indemnity

In the event that one of your clients or customers claims for financial loss, bodily/personal injury or property damage as a result of an act, error or omission in your business’ services, professional indemnity insurance will protect you.

Tax Audit

Being selected for a taxation audit is time-consuming and can be costly. Taking out insurance helps in the event your business is chosen for audit, investigation or review.

Product Recall

Unfortunately, things can happen which means you might need to recall a product, and with the number of product recalls increasing in recent years, having insurance to protect you against significant loss can be very beneficial.

When it comes to manufacturing, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not taking out the best insurance they can. Speaking to an Adelaide Insurance Broker at MGA can help you sort the best cover for you and your company.

MGA take the guesswork out of the insurance process and their expert broking personnel will find the best protection for whatever you are covering. Your business is their business.   

Precision manufacturer secures defence future

Adelaide-based Plasteel SA is among a number of specialist Australian companies partnering with Rheinmetall Defence Australia, which was last week named as the successful tenderer for the LAND 400 Phase 2.

The $5.2 billion LAND 400 Phase 2 will deliver 211 armoured reconnaissance vehicles to the Australian Army from 2020. Rheinmetall’s Boxer 8×8 CRV was chosen as the preferred tender ahead of BAE Systems’ Patria AMV35.

Plasteel is expecting to work on the turrets, as it has done on previous defence projects. The company specialises in precision sheet metal product manufacturing and has previously worked in a number of defence projects including the M113 armoured personnel carrier and Air Warfare Destroyer.

However, when the last of Plasteel’s AWD work ended about 18 months ago it was plunged into the Valley of Death, reducing its workforce to a little over 20 from a peak of 45.

A series of commercial jobs has helped it build back up to 35 but Plasteel Managing Director Daryl O’Shaughnessy expects staff numbers to soon be well over 50.

“The Valley of Death definitely hit us hard but we managed to have some success with commercial projects and this will definitely bring us well and truly out of it, so we’re pleased,” O’Shaughnessy said.

“With all the defence projects coming up we fully expect to be engaged for many years to come now.”

Plasteel was established in 1964 and has worked in the defence industry for about 25 years. O’Shaughnessy, pictured, spent 19 years in the Royal Australian Air Force and has owned the company since the early 2000s.

He said the Plasteel site in the southern suburbs of Adelaide was well equipped to handle a wide array of advanced manufacturing work and could easily be ramped up with the addition of a second or third shift to cope with the increased workload.

“We’re very highly specialised, we engage heavily in advanced manufacturing and we’ve got some really good staff,” O’Shaughnessy said.

“We’re a one-stop shop and that’s one of the things that attracted Rheinmetall to us.

“At the moment we’ve only got the one shift on so we can increase to three shifts a day across 24 hours so we don’t have to increase the footprint and we can stay where we are.

“I’m really pleased that we’re keeping the work in Australia – that’s a big thing for us and for everybody.”

Plasteel was named Manufacturing Business of the Year at the 2017 Optus Business Awards in November.

It is among more than 40 companies from around Australia, including Supashock and Redarc from South Australia, identified by Rheinmetall to form part of a globally competitive military vehicle industry.

Rheinmetall will establish a state of the art Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) near Brisbane. The first 25 vehicles will be completed in Germany to help train Australian staff before the work is transferred to the centre in Queensland.


Originally published on The Lead by Andrew Spence

Adelaide Innovation Hub for Industry 4.0

An innovation hub to help Australian companies make the shift from traditional manufacturing to more advanced, value-added products has opened in Adelaide.


The Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation hub in Adelaide is designed to accelerate the national adoption of ‘industry 4.0’ technology among hi-tech and manufacturing businesses, as well as foster research and development.

The hub’s February 9 launch in the South Australian capital comes at a time when the nation’s economy is transitioning from a traditional manufacturing base to more digitalised, knowledge-based industries following the closure of Holden’s Adelaide plant late last year, which brought an end to automotive manufacturing in Australia.

Professor John Spoehr, Director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University, said the adoption of new age digital technology was crucial due to the highly competitive environment of manufacturing internationally.

“Without the automotive industries we need new sectors and new industries that will be at the forefront in the uptake of new technologies,” he said.

Professor Spoehr said the hub would enable closer collaboration between educational organisations and businesses to better understand digital technology in new age manufacturing and its impact on the performance of companies and workers.

The term ‘industry 4.0’ refers to the growing trend of automation and the use of the Internet of Things, Cloud computing and cyber-physical systems in advanced manufacturing.

Situated on the ground floor of the Flinders University building at Tonsley, one of the key facilities at the Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation hub is the modular Future Factory. Made in Germany by technology giant Festo and funded by the South Australian Government, it showcases the latest automation, sensor, monitoring, robotic and cobotic technologies and is one of only a few Future Factories in the Southern Hemisphere.

Professor Spoehr said the platform was modularised and could be reconfigured in a variety of ways.

“It’s a great education and training tool for students and workers who are wanting to become familiar with how these new systems operate, but it’s (also) a great way for companies to think about how to adopt some of these technologies in their own workplace,” he said.

Other facilities at the Flinders Tonsley campus include autonomous sea vessels (pictured below) and testing capacity, photonics technologies, a Faraday cage, interactive co-bots, a large hexapod robot for biomechanical testing and a variety of digital manufacturing and rapid prototyping machines.

The Tonsley precinct in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, which was once a former car assembly plant, is Australia’s first innovation district. It is a prime example of the changing face of South Australian manufacturing and is home to more than 100 companies including Siemens, Zeiss Vision, ZEN Energy and SAGE Automation.

The last Mitsubishi sedan rolled off the production line at Tonsley in Adelaide’s southern suburbs in 2008 sounding an early warning for the future of traditional manufacturing in South Australia.

Almost a decade on and the site has been transformed into a leading innovation hub, bringing together advanced manufacturing companies, University STEM programs, renewable energy leaders and hi-tech pacesetters in the one precinct, which is now home to more people than the last days of Mitsubishi.

SAGE Automation is a national control services and industrial automation company founded in South Australia and is among 20 businesses associated with Flinders University at the TMI hub.

The Tonsley-based business specialises in automation technologies and services for manufacturers across Australia.

SAGE Automation CEO Adrian Fahey said the company’s strategic partnership with Flinders University and relationships with other businesses in the precinct were among the main benefits of its association with the TMI hub.

“Being in this hub gives us an opportunity to continue to focus on what we’re doing in industry 4.0, but also to tap into some of the best thinking and new thinking from the institutes and the university,” he said.

“I think this is going to be a precinct that’s going to draw potential customers who have problems that need solving and will come here and see this is an environment where that can happen.”

The establishment of the TMI hub comes from collective work between Flinders University, the South Australian Government and Melbourne’s Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

Based in Melbourne, the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre provides a range of services for Australian manufacturers seeking to implement industry 4.0 technology.

Professor Spoehr said the university’s partnership with would ensure their support in working with companies over the next five years in the new facility.

“This could come in the form of awareness raising, education and training programs, or small projects that are designed to test out ideas for the adoption of new technologies,” he said.

“This is just the beginning. We have an ambition for this new facility to become the Australian showcase of advanced manufacturing and digital technologies … a one stop shop here at Tonsley.”

South Australian Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said it was important to ensure the advanced manufacturing workforce and companies had the ability to compete globally in niche markets as the economy transitioned.

“Industry 4.0 is the next technological wave that will create opportunities for South Australia’s advanced manufacturers to diversify into growth sectors such as defence, food and health,” he said.

“The TMI Hub will further cement Tonsley’s reputation as a global centre of excellence for industry and research collaboration, with modern facilities to train people for the jobs of the future.”


First published by The Lead by Anthony Dodd

From Unboiling an Egg to Capturing the Energy of Graphene Oxide

From Unboiling an Egg to Capturing the Energy of Graphene Oxide

The Australian researchers who successfully unboiled an egg are turning their attention to capturing the energy of graphene oxide (GO) to make a more efficient alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

The Flinders University team in South Australia has partnered with Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria, Australian Stock Exchange-listed First Graphene Lt, and manufacturer Kremford Pty Ltd.

The collaboration is developing a GO-powered battery, a super-capacity energy storage alternative to emerging lithium-ion battery (LIB) technology.

Graphene is the lightest, strongest, most electrically conductive material available and has been predicted to generate revolutionary new products in many industry sectors. But so far unreliable quality and poor manufacturing processes has prevented an industrial graphene market.

In 2015, Flinders University scientists were awarded an Ig Nobel Award for creating the Vortex Fluidic Device and using it to unboil an egg.

The device has also been used to accurately slice carbon nanotubes to an average length of 170 nanometres using only water, a solvent and a laser.

It has also been used to process graphene to a high quality for commercial use.

VFD creator and professor of clean technology at Flinders University Professor Colin Raston said the production of GO from graphite ore with minimal waste was an important part of the collaborative project.

“This project aims to develop the manufacturing specifications for the commercial production of a graphene oxide super-capacitor with the ‘look and feel’ of a LIB but with superior performance across weight, charge rate, lifecycle and environmental footprint factors,” Professor Raston said.

The AU$3.45 million project is being supported by a $1.5 million Cooperative Research Centre Project grant through the Australian Government’s Advance Manufacturing Fund.

First Graphene will use the Flinders University technology to produce the highest-quality graphene at scale and to become a global supplier of graphene nanomaterials products.