The peak industry body for the automotive aftermarket sector has welcomed the Turnbull government’s new $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) which promises more funding for new business ventures, promotes innovative research and rewards risk-taking in order to build a more entrepreneurial culture in Australia.
For industry, a key part of the wide-ranging agenda is a $36 million ‘global innovation strategy’ that will fund five so-called ‘landing pads’ in key locations including Silicon Valley in California and Tel Aviv in Israel, giving Australian businesses a short-term operational base in overseas markets.
A new annual in-bound innovation forum will also be established to foster collaboration with overseas investors, while $8 million will be used to form an ‘incubator support program’ for emerging innovative and high-performing Australian businesses.
The government has also earmarked $106 million in tax incentives for investors in early-stage start-up companies, $18 million for an Innovations Connection Program and $200 million for a new co-investment CSIRO Innovation Fund.
Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) executive director Stuart Charity said the organisation was now pushing for specific new automotive programs, such as a hub for the sector along the lines of the SEMA Garage operated by the Specialty Equipment Market Association in the United States.
“We look forward to working with relevant agencies to progress some important automotive innovation projects we have developed to ensure Australia’s automotive manufacturing sector remains alive after the car-makers close in 2017,” he said.
“One of those AAAA visions is a purpose-built and professionally managed Automotive Innovation Hub to facilitate research and product development in the sector.
“The Automotive Innovation Hub would act as an incubator, providing technical skills and equipment required to help automotive businesses get their product concepts off the drawing board and into the market.”
Mr Charity said the AAAA had met with industry and innovation minister Christopher Pyne to discuss this and other proposals, emphasising how the SEMA facility in particular “has helped bring many bright ideas successfully to market, which in turn creates new jobs”.
“There is serious and significant potential for Australia’s automotive aftermarket sector to be leveraged to help maintain employment and investment in both OEM component and aftermarket parts and accessories manufacturing,” he said.
“There is huge export growth potential for these market segments.
“We recognise that the way forward is through innovation seeded by research and industry co-operation (and) this federal government NISA initiative creates openings that previously did not exist,” he said.