Moving forward from Ford
Deakin University's researchers stand ready to play a lead role in helping the Geelong region make the transition from old manufacturing industries to new sustainable 21st Century ones, says Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander.
Speaking on ABC Radio National's Breakfast program, Professor den Hollander said there was a way forward after Ford in the city and its adjacent reaches, a way paved in part by Deakin's commitment to being a world leader in the development of new carbon fibre products.
"If you think of Ford, the downstream of Ford, there were a lot of small support industries that helped Ford be Ford," Professor den Hollander said.
"With carbon fibre, if we do get a big manufacturer to Geelong and while I can't speak about that, we have high hopes for that and it is looking very good, what of the small to medium enterprises who are the smart thinkers in Australia who are going to locate to Geelong?
"That is the big challenge I spend 90 per cent of my day on, how we get them to Geelong and earn a living."
Through AFFRIC, the Australian Future Fibre Research Facility, and Carbon Nexus, the only carbon fibre research facility of its type anywhere in the world, Deakin and Geelong - with the support of the Federal and Victorian governments - Deakin University has been vigorously forging a reputation as a global leader in the development of carbon fibre composites.
Deakin's research in this area was recently showcased at the Avalon International Airshow, attracting interest from some of the big players in the aerospace industry.
The automotive industry is also interested in carbon fibre, something highlighted by the story of Carbon Rev.
Its genesis was a student and staff project at Deakin. It is now on the cusp of becoming a multi-million dollar manufacturing industry, potentially providing employment to hundreds of people in its own right, as well as those involved in down stream industries.
Carbon Rev has developed a wheel made entirely out of carbon fibre and after some initial scepticism, the auto industry is now sitting up and taking notice.
Jake Dingle from Carbon Rev says there is a real synergy between his company and Deakin which will only grow as demands increases for his product, and the Carbon Nexus facilities swing into full operation.
Speaking on Radio National Dingle said he also believes it won't be too long before the aviation industry will also be taking notice of the carbon fibre wheel.