Earlier this year, Deakin University unveiled its striking new ManuFutures facility. Located on Deakin’s Geelong Waurn Ponds campus, in the epicentre of the Geelong Innovation Precinct, the ManuFutures facility provides a collaborative space for advanced manufacturing organisations. Commercially focused, the purpose-built facility boasts a range of features including a flexible manufacturing production space, laboratory space, serviced offices, meeting areas and a centralised reception.

ManuFutures was built by Vaughan Constructions under a Design and Construct contract. Vaughan has been operational for more than six decades and is one of the most reputable and trusted builders nationwide. The company’s portfolio includes some of the largest and most complex structures in the Southern Hemisphere. Recently, Vaughan completed work on Australia’s largest water-based coatings manufacturing facility for Dulux, in Merrifield, north of Melbourne.

The project presented significant delivery challenges for Vaughan, requiring adherence to a tight project programme and subcontractor co-ordination processes while working on a 325-hectare campus with a population of around 7,312 students. However, strict staging and meticulous project management ensured that the project was constructed without disruption to its surroundings and delivered to the highest standard for which Deakin University is known.

ManuFutures is unique in that it supports organisations during their penetration and growth phases, cultivating maximum growth and success through state-of-the-art infrastructure and idyllic location. Tenants have close proximity and access to the University’s world-renowned research and knowledge teams, providing an abundance of resources and a substantial competitive advantage. Housing up to 15 tenants with capacity for 150 people, ManuFutures is surrounded by a variety of like-minded organisations on Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus, including the Centre for Advanced Design in Engineering Training (CADET), the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research & Innovation (IISRI), and the Carbon Nexus carbon-fibre and composites research facility.

CADET houses some of the most advanced and future-focused simulation and visualisation systems, purpose-built interactive laboratories and learning environments in the country, changing the way students learn and train to become engineers. IISRI supports R&D in areas such as robotics, haptics, and human machine interfaces, providing practical solutions to real-world problems and develop commercial-ready products and services. Meanwhile, Carbon Nexus has established a reputation since its opening in May 2014 as a global centre of excellence in the development of carbon fibre-based manufacturing materials and techniques.

The Waurn Ponds campus is also home to Carbon Revolution, the pioneering Australian company that has developed the world’s first commercialised carbon fibre composite wheel. The campus also houses HeiQ Australia, a joint venture between Geelong biotechnology company Cytomatrix and Swiss textile innovation company HeiQ Materials AG, established in 2014 to develop and manufacture high-value short fibre materials for domestic and export markets.

While the manufacturing sector has taken a hit in recent years with the closure of several major facilities nationwide, ManuFutures has been established in a bid to reinvigorate the industry in Geelong and the surrounding area. The hub will also contribute to the local workforce, creating high-skill jobs and bringing a high level of manufacturing expertise to the area. The State Government supported the initiative with an investment of $3m towards the $13m project with the aim of boosting employment opportunities in Victoria.

Significant innovations have already come to fruition at the facility , with the development of FormFlow Bend, a world-first metal bending technology, created by FormFlow which is based at ManuFutures. FormFlow’s access to Deakin University’s resources such as Carbon Revolution fostered collaboration to further develop its products.

Andrew Noble, Managing Director of Vaughan Constructions, has been thrilled to see the outstanding innovations that are being developed at the ManuFutures facility.

“The tenants at ManuFutures are thriving and they are making significant contributions to the growth of Australia’s manufacturing sector,” said Noble. “We are proud to have constructed another facility that is cultivating an environment that is the catalyst for the development of ground-breaking innovations.”