ManuFutures – a partnership success story

Impact story

ManuFutures is a purpose-built, advanced manufacturing innovation hub and business accelerator, located within the heart of Deakin’s Future Economy Precinct on the Waurn Ponds campus.

Key facts

    • ManuFutures is based within Deakin’s Future Economy Precinct – a 543-hectare site, with over 1900 high-tech, high-value, knowledge-economy jobs created for the Geelong region through industry partnerships and co-location opportunities. Some of Australia's and the world's leading advanced manufacturers now call the precinct home.
    • Since it was established in 2018, the ManuFutures innovation hub has accelerated 12 start-ups, contributed $15 million to gross regional product, generated $60 million in company value and created over 120 new jobs.
    • ManuFutures’ programs will support many more enterprises and jobs in regional Victoria as they mature and attract aligned enterprises.
    • ManuFutures achieved financial sustainability in its first year.
    • Deakin and the Victorian Government are providing $20 million for ManuFutures 2, increasing the capacity of the current premises to support an additional 10 enterprises and over 100 jobs. The facility will be open to new tenants in late 2022.

First-class research with local community impact

ManuFutures is a purpose-built, advanced manufacturing innovation hub and business accelerator, located within the heart of Deakin’s Future Economy Precinct on the Waurn Ponds campus.

Developed in partnership with the Victorian Government and launched in 2018, the $13 million hub provides state-of-the-art flexible spaces to emerging Australian enterprises involved in sustainable manufacturing industries, and a vast breadth of technological, business, peer and expert academic support.

Over commercial lease terms of one to five years, ManuFutures offers participants a stimulating and supportive environment with access to the research, knowledge, staff and student base of the University. Participants work alongside internationally recognised experts in their field of collaborative innovation, accessing advanced equipment and multidisciplinary business and technical expertise, both from Deakin and partner organisations.

Facilities at ManuFutures include collaborative working areas, breakout spaces and meeting and video-conference rooms. An extensive range of business support is also provided, where participants benefit from project management support and mentoring, business development and planning, financial planning and capital-raising assistance.

Prior to acceptance into the ManuFutures program, participants are reviewed to ensure alignment with Deakin’s strategic plan, with emphasis on three key metrics: student internships, research partnerships and regional jobs.

ManuFutures has been established to create the jobs of the future for local communities and beyond through world-class innovation and research. Once home to companies such as Ford, International Harvester, Shell and Alcoa, the Geelong region has evolved to capitalise on new economic opportunities and priorities as these industries declined.

‘Deakin University is committed to the communities we serve and ManuFutures is a key part of our commitment to ensuring new industry growth and job creation in Geelong and across our State, so that industry can be globally competitive while based in Australia,’ says Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Alfred Deakin Professor Julie Owens.

Deakin’s supporting role in ManuFutures

Deakin’s support of ManuFutures is extensive. Advice on real business and community challenges is close at hand, with Deakin Research Innovations’ support spanning the full commercialisation journey from IP licensing to contract development and raising capital.

‘Being based at ManuFutures has embedded us in an environment where we can access like-for-like businesses who are on the same journey. We work with mentors and get advice in business, law and technology, and we have access to talent. We employ Deakin graduates and expect to employ more,’ says Jon Partington, owner of bicycle wheel manufacturer Partington CC, located at ManuFutures.

Collaborations between ManuFutures’ businesses, Deakin researchers and research students have proven to be mutually beneficial. Deakin researchers and research students gain experience, education, training and potential employment opportunities in real-world industries. Seeing their research ideas translated into real applications from idea, to proof-of-concept, to commercial production provides invaluable experience for ambitious new ventures.

The critical mass of advanced manufacturing industries on site means the region also wins, benefitting the economy of Geelong, regional Victoria and beyond.

'Starting out on my own was daunting. I grew up in the country and didn’t go to university, but I had ideas and lots of hands-on experience. ManuFutures provided a huge amount of support, including time management strategies, access to grants and a group of really helpful people.'

Nigel Petrie, Engineered to Slide

Deakin's Future Economy Precinct: Innovation accelerated

The ManuFutures innovation hub is located in Deakin’s Future Economy Precinct in Waurn Ponds.

Built up through 17 years of strategic investment from Deakin, local, State and Federal governments, Deakin’s Future Economy Precinct is an advanced manufacturing research and development resource unparalleled in Australia.

Research institutes and facilities on-site include the Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training, the Institute for Frontier Materials, the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute and the Institute for Health Transformation. The $34 million Carbon Nexus carbon fibre and composite research facility and the $103 million Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre (AFFRIC) are other world-class resources on-site.

The shared location between these institutes and enterprises means manufacturers and other industry partners can access world-class research expertise, specialised research equipment and industrial-scale infrastructure.

The precinct is well on its way to becoming Victoria's epicentre of research and innovation in advanced manufacturing, materials, energy, sustainability, technology, health and high-value agriculture. It now supports 12 thriving companies, including global carbon fibre wheel manufacturer Carbon Revolution and Quickstep Holdings, Australia’s leading independent manufacturer of carbon fibre components for the Aerospace industry.

Deakin University is committed to the communities we serve and ManuFutures is a key part of our commitment to ensuring new industry growth and job creation in Geelong and across our State, so that industry can be globally competitive while based in Australia.

Alfred Deakin Professor Julie Owens

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research

ManuFutures’ success stories

Several of the 12 companies established at ManuFutures have won prestigious awards and are now commercialising applications of world-leading technology. Some examples include:

  • FLAIM Systems – a company that designs, manufactures and sells augmented reality firefighter training systems across the globe – was commercialised from idea to product at ManuFutures and is now valued at over $6 million. The company now employs 23 people. It was named “Victoria’s Small Business Exporter of the Year” at the Governor of Victoria Export Awards (2019), amongst other significant local and national awards.
  • Partington Advanced Engineering is an award-winning bicycle wheel manufacturer. Its R-series carbon fibre wheels received 2020 Australian Good Design Awards for both Engineering Design, and Sport and Lifestyle categories.
  • Students and academics from across Deakin are participating in a project with ACCIONA Energy to build a ‘Cruiser Class’ solar vehicle. This is the company’s first foray into vehicle production and demonstrates the organisation’s ambition to raise awareness of sustainability. Up to 500 students from undergraduate through to PhD and Master’s level will be engaged over the project period.

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