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.   

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.

Wine key to automotive parts manufacturer’s diversification

Wine key to automotive parts manufacturer’s diversification

Wine key to automotive parts manufacturer’s diversification

Andrew Spence

A collaboration with a vineyard supplies company is helping a South Australian car component manufacturer stay in business as Holden and Toyota prepare to close.

Conma Industries has made components for the car industry for 35 years but as the Australian industry winds down it has had to diversify.

It began making parts used to repair metal vineyard trellis posts for another Adelaide company Ocvitti about six years ago. The products have enjoyed success in California following a ban on toxic wooden vineyard posts there in 2000.

However, the introduction in 2015 of Ocloc trellis posts and entire vineyard systems designed for Australian vineyards has seen business boom.

Conma Industries General Manager Richard Rebbeck said he expected vineyard products to soon become the largest part of the business.

He said although there was still demand for after market car components the new car component side of the company was almost finished.

“It used to be the biggest part of our business but over time Mitsubishi closed and then Ford went last year and production is winding down at Toyota and Holden so it’s been drying up over a period of time,” Rebbeck said.

wine manufacturing plant

Conma Industries has also diversified into other industries such as the manufacture of heat exchangers for air conditioning units and metal pressings for rural pipefittings.

“It’s always a challenge, you’ve just got to get out there and be known as a good supplier and innovative and people come and talk to you,” Rebbeck said.

“The more these products get out in the field the more people see them and want them.”

This week the company received a $328,700 grant from the South Australian Government’s Automotive Supplier Diversification Program to progress its diversification into the wine sector.

Conma will use the funding to help manufacture specialised tooling and to modernise and expand machinery to develop additional products that will enhance the Ocloc steel trellis system range and support further growth in the horticultural market.

The company manufactured about 100,000 posts in the past year and will have the capacity to produce up to 250,000 posts next year.

The metal posts can be used to replace broken treated pine posts, of which there are millions in Australia every year, or be used as a cheaper, more durable alternative to the traditional toxic wooden posts when establishing new vineyards.

Design features include soft wire holes to stop wire from wearing, high-tensile steel and a zinc-aluminium alloy coating, Galfan, which gives the posts twice the lifespan as galvanized steel.

Ocvitti has more than 200 Australian vineyards on its books and also has a company in California manufacturing its products under licence for the American market.

Originally published on The Lead

Artificial Intelligence and Wine Manufacturing

Artificial Intelligence and Wine Manufacturing

Artificial intelligence to streamline wine manufacturing and significantly increase production. 

South Australian tech firm Ailytic has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) program to significantly increase production efficiency by optimising machine use.

It uses an AI technique called ‘prescriptive analytics’ to account for all the variables that go into mass-producing wines such as grape variety, packaging and finished product inventory.

The program then creates the best possible operation schedule, allowing companies to save considerable time and money.

Ailytic’s list of clients includes world-renown wine companies such as Pernod Ricard, Accolade Wines and Treasury Wine Estates.

It has now included South Australian company Angove Family Winemakers as well.

Pernod Ricard Global Business Solutions Manager Pauline Paterson said AI was highly beneficial for the wine industry and helped to increase the bottom line.

“We use it mainly around production line and use it to derive the most efficient way to produce our product,” she said.

“It is definitely helpful with changeover, how many bottles we need, how much wine and what order to do everything in.”

Ailytic’s system is able to obtain essential information from wineries using remote sensors, which are placed on equipment and around winemaking facilities.

These sensors track a number of key metrics including throughput, machine uptime and changeover time from red to white when bottling.

This includes the sub-classification of each colour such as sweet red, dry red, aromatic white and fortified wines.

Ailytic’s program ensures that wine is changed quickly, without contamination, bottled using appropriate glassware, labelled and then packaged appropriately.

The sensors then transmit the data to a computer in real time using Wi-Fi.

A single production run for bottling can take anywhere between one hour to two days but Ailytic’s system reduces time spent changing the line setup by up to 30 per cent.

Pernod Ricard is the world’s second leading wine and spirits company, with a network of growers across six countries and €8.68 billion in sales in 2015.

Its brands include Jacobs Creek, Campo Viejo, Brancott Estate, Kenwood Vineyards and Wyndham Estate.

Ailytic co-founder and CEO James Balzary said the company’s AI program was perfect for the wine industry because it thrived in complex environments.

“Our algorithms work well for things like packaging, bottling and general manufacturing – the wine industry is where we are seeing a lot of appetite and the most uptake,” he said.

“People think of wine as a romantic artisan type of process, and it is, when you are producing small batches or super-premium wine, but the majority of wines we drink are mass manufactured in big complex tank operations. That’s where we come in – the more complex the business, the bigger the benefit.”

Ailytic’s involvement in wine manufacturing has seen it nominated at the 2017 Wine Industry IMPACT Awards in Adelaide.

Ailytic’s other clients are also based out of South Australia and include Australia’s lone sink manufacturer Tasman Sinkware.

However, it does plan to expand its clientele and has already garnered international interest in their product.

“Even though the bigger wineries would find this more useful, even smaller operations will benefit from this,” Balzary said.

“It’s an affordable solution that used to only be accessible to bigger companies but we try to focus on bringing advanced capabilities to Tier 2 and Tier 3 manufacturers and service providers.”

First published on The Lead.