South Australia’s $122M Economic Recovery Fund targets manufacturing innovation

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Image credit: Jeson/stock.adobe.com

The South Australian government announced that the inaugural stage of the Economic Recovery Fund (ERF), totalling $122 million, commences today, with a particular emphasis on the development of manufacturing innovation and regional tourism infrastructure.

A total of $20 million is earmarked for co-investment with successful businesses and organisations through grants or concessional loans, the government said in a news release.

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate that their projects will bring broader economic benefits, such as creating sustainable job opportunities, upskilling the workforce, enhancing productivity, expanding market access, and introducing new products, services, or technologies.

Applicants in the Manufacturing Innovation category must also showcase their advanced manufacturing capabilities, competitive neutrality, and the project’s level of innovation and uniqueness.

Manufacturing is South Australia’s largest sector, contributing significantly to the state’s annual output, business research and development, and exports, as reported by the state.

Meanwhile, the Regional Tourism funding stream is dedicated to eligible infrastructure projects, including new accommodation or expansion, enhancements to visitor engagement infrastructure, and the development of new tour offerings using existing products and experiences.

Eleven regions will benefit from this initiative, bolstering South Australia’s thriving tourism sector.

In particular, data reported by the government said tourism plays a vital role in the state’s economy, employing approximately 40,000 South Australians and contributing a record $9.9 billion. It is on track to reach its 2030 target of $12.8 billion.

The ERF complements other government funds like the Major Events Fund and Tourism Industry Development Fund, ensuring that South Australia remains competitive in the global economic landscape.

Future ERF rounds will be announced in line with the government’s strategy to support local businesses and industries, promote job growth, improve productivity, and introduce innovative technologies, products, or services.

The ERF was established in the 2022-23 Budget and is being implemented to support businesses as national and global economic conditions become more challenging.

Additionally, the state government will allocate the remaining $5 million from the $10 million Manufacturing Innovation Grants Program to support this initiative.

Treasurer Stephen Mullighan mentioned that the Economic Recovery Fund is expected to facilitate the growth, diversification, and transformation of local businesses and organisations, resulting in increased employment and a stronger economy.

“An advanced manufacturing sector is vital for a smart, sustainable and inclusive future, while investing in our regions will only strengthen our visitor economy,” he noted.

According to Deputy Premier Dr Susan Close, the Advanced Manufacturing Strategy is a reaction to the swiftly changing global landscape, marked by challenges and opportunities stemming from trends such as decarbonisation, geopolitical unpredictability, emerging technologies, and disruptions in supply chains.

“South Australia’s international leadership in renewable energy and investment in hydrogen production, together with increased global commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement, create new manufacturing opportunities for premium low-carbon products like green metals, minerals, and fuels that capitalise on the global green transition,” she explained.

Applications for the first round are open until 15 December 2023, and further details can be found on the Department of Treasury and Finance website.