Advanced Manufacturing Town Hall: Building Resiliency and Seizing Opportunities

WATCH > Building Resiliency and Seizing Opportunities in Advanced Manufacturing

In partnership with the Australian Embassy in Washington DC, members and friends from around the world came together for a virtual town hall to hear perspectives on opportunities for Australia in Advanced Manufacturing from an eminent panel of experts.

Yasmin Allen, Chair of, opened the discussion by emphasizing “Don’t waste a crisis”. Noting that harnessing the insight and experience of Australia’s diaspora is at the core of the mission, Yasmin invited Australia’s Ambassador to the United States, The Hon. Arthur Sinodinos, to set the scene for the discussion. 

The Ambassador shared his optimism about trade opportunities for Australia, and Australia’s relationship with the US.

While globalisation may be under threat, and tensions with China in the spotlight, the Ambassador noted how increased domestic production of critical supplies offers a unique opportunity for trusted partners like Australia to take science and innovation forward in a cooperative manner with the US. 

Joining the Ambassador was our panel of global leaders:

  • Mr Anthony Pratt – Executive Chairman of Visy Industries and Pratt Industries America. 
  • Ms Robyn Denholm, Chairman of Tesla
  • Mr Andrew Liveris AO  – Former Chairman  and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company and DowDuPont and special adviser to the Prime Minister’s National Covid-19 Coordination Commission
  • Ms Pamela Melroy, Director of Space Technology and Policy at Nova Systems and Non-Executive Director of Myriota 

Concrete actions

In conversation with Advance CEO, Maria MacNamara, the panellists outlined concrete actions Australia should take to seize the opportunities created by the global pandemic.

Anthony Pratt shares his tips for success
  • Fix the missing middle – to create the industries of the future a concerted national effort is needed to create an ecosystem: From research and science, through technology demonstration and prototyping, to create scale and enterprise capabilities. Australia has underinvested in the manufacturing capabilities, stifling our ability to progress beyond investments in research and science. 
  • Prioritisation is key – Government can play a role where the private sector can’t lead due to their risk appetite or a lengthy time horizon, but industry policy can not be a cover for increased protectionism. Rather than “letting 1000 flowers bloom” by investing across a lot of interesting possibilities, we need an integrated approach focusing on fewer opportunities, concentrating on the utilisation and commercialisation of emerging technologies. 
  • Move up the value chain – Australia can dominate in sub sectors where raw materials can be value added to create components or end products, for example agricultural, food production, energy generation, rare earths and critical minerals, cement. 
  • Double down where industry strengths converge – by finding the intersection of disparate industries, new applications and opportunities can be accessed – for example, remote asset management is a clear specialty of the resources industry, and can be enhanced through collaboration with the aerospace industry, creating even more specialised and valuable industry opportunities. 
  • Don’t forget the machine that builds the machine – raise manufacturing from being a means to an end, and like Tesla, think about the factory or production facilities with as much intentionality as consideration of the design and development of the product itself. This means rethinking the individual and team skills needed in manufacturing to integrate robotics, technicians and software developers and engineers.
  • Plan the skills for the desired end-point – to create the pipeline of talent, it is necessary to consider new models of upskilling and reskilling, better predictive capabilities on skills needs, and lateral thinking on the best ways to deliver training. This should include linking more students with industry, to draw that talent into the technology and manufacturing sectors, and anticipating the need for both engineers and technical talent from the VET sector. 
  • Leverage our super funds – without a public loan market, super funds are predominantly focused on equity markets. Australia requires a robus loan market for businesses to undertake more capital investment. 
  • Address the energy constraints – Australia has the technology to lead the world in the next generation of energy production, focusing either on renewables or natural resources to spearhead the sector. Addressing input costs and investing in new energy options will make energy-intensive industries more competitive and create significant new jobs in future-facing industries. 
  • Recognise the importance of country-to-country relations – to counter rising protectionism and pressure to buy locally, alliances such as the Five Eyes partnership will serve Australia well, particularly with aspirations for it to free trade arena for defence materiel and potentially cooperation across R&D agencies including DARPA and ARPA-E.

What lessons should we take from the pandemic?

The panellists shared the unexpected lessons they have personally taken from the experience of Covid19.

While the pandemic has extracted an enormously high toll, in terms of human life, health and economic wellbeing globally, it has sling shot us into a future world; one in which digital has become central to every interaction, forcing both organisations and individuals further up the adoption curve. 

There was consensus that this black swan event provides us with a choice – to revert to our default ways, or to make bold and necessary changes to transform our economy for the next 30 years.


Watch the Town Hall – Building Resiliency and Seizing Opportunities in Advanced Manufacturing
Watch the presentation by the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO


A transcript is available here.

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Reference material


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