The grant is part of a broader programme of what Siemens says is expected to amount to about $1 billion in hi-tech Siemens PLM industrial software grants to select universities across Australia to help students and researchers prepare for the digital economy.
The grants are also an outcome of the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce — an industry-led group established to support improved bilateral relations between Australia and Germany — and part of Siemens’ national commitment to support vocational, job-ready education across the country.
To complement the Siemens grant programme, the federal government has announced a $5 million commitment to help establish a network of five Industry 4.0 test laboratories supporting the supporting the transition of SMEs to a digital economy – co-funded by industries and universities.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who is also the head of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, says he believes that investment in technologies and industry collaboration is critical to pushing forward Australia’s digital economy.
“I am encouraged to see industry and academia collaborating to drive forward Australia’s digital economy. As a nation, our focus should be on driving productivity in existing industries and building our competitive strengths in new ones – all using digital technologies.
“But to do that, we first need to ensure that students, who will be our workforce of the future, have access to the best digital tools and can learn the right skills that will be relevant in future. I welcome Siemens’ commitment to helping up-skill our future workforce and prepare them for the fourth industrial revolution.”
Michaelia Cash, Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, made the test laboratory funding announcement.
“The world is entering a fourth industrial revolution where automation and digital technologies provide countries like Australia with unprecedented access to contribute to global value chains. But we need the skills and tools to help our SMEs prepare for the transition,” Minister Cash said.
“This money, with co-contribution by the selected universities and industry partnerships, will help establish Industry 4.0 showcases, an innovation platform and a transformation catalyst for our SMEs to support their transition to a digital economy.
“The testlabs will support workforce transformation in many ways including acting as education and training platforms where SMEs can develop Industry 4.0 relevant capabilities.”
Visiting global member of the managing board and Siemens’ global chief technology officer, Dr Roland Busch, said that the grant to UWA was a strong boost of confidence in Australia and the nation’s potential to innovate.
“Australian ingenuity is world-renowned. As global market places prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, Australia has the ability to ride the digital wave. Companies such as MRX Technologies and Firewire Surfboards and products such as Siemens’ Fusesaver are testament to the fact that local Australian innovations can make a significant impact globally.”
“The opportunities in Australia to benefit from digitalisation are immense – and with the right digital tools we are only limited by our imaginations. In many ways this is like speaking the same digital language so we can collaborate globally in our trade and value chains.”