The Federal Government is offering funding worth $7m under Automotive Innovation Lab Access Grants program, supporting businesses across Australia to undertake automotive product development. However, applications will close on 13 December.

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) recently announced the establishment of two automotive Innovation Labs based in Victoria and South Australia. Co-funded by Federal and Victorian Government industry development grants, the operation of these new Innovation Labs will be led by the AAAA, providing Australian automotive product designers, manufacturers and start-ups with the the tools, technology, vehicles, expertise and collaborative environment required to innovate, design, test and manufacture for local and export markets.

Advanced manufacturing services will be provided, including 3D scanning and printing, measuring sessions, technology transfer, CAD and prototyping. Advanced product development and testing facilities will significantly reduce the time and cost in developing innovative new products. According to AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity, the establishment of these Innovation Labs will grow an industry that is already punching well above its weight on the global stage.

“Australian automotive aftermarket industry manufacturers are currently producing parts, components and technology worth more than $5bn each year,” said Charity. “Our companies are world leaders in the design and manufacture of specialty products with a technological advantage, such as 4WD, high-performance and motorsport components. These products are purchased on innovation, performance and features rather than on price. Our businesses have been successful because they have made significant investments in R&D and capital equipment and have a strong export focus.

“Establishing this collaborative infrastructure will position our industry for future domestic and export market growth by providing the innovators of the industry with the leading-edge technology and expertise needed to take Australian automotive industry innovations to the world, regardless of how large or small their businesses are.”

The AAAA has appointed automotive industry engineering specialist Luke Truskinger to the role of Innovation Lab Project Manager. Along with his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, Luke brings extensive local and international OEM experience and a history of supporting the Innovation Lab project, understanding the critical role the Labs will play.

The AAAA will be engaging in extensive discussions with Australia’s automotive parts and accessories industry to build on the significant work already undertaken as part of the Innovation Lab feasibility study. The next few months of the establishment phase will ensure equipment and services offered by the Innovation Labs are closely aligned with the industry’s needs.

“We look forward to inviting automotive manufacturers to take advantage of the services and facilities our Innovation Labs will offer to assist in taking their products from concept to domestic and global market success,” added Charity. “This initiative would not have become reality without the significant financial support provided by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, in addition to the support of 25 ‘Lab Champion’ companies who contributed to the Innovation Lab feasibility study. We would also like to thank Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick for his strong advocacy on behalf of Australian Automotive manufacturers. Everyone should be very proud of this exciting new development that secures the future of Australian automotive design and manufacturing.”

The Federal Government is offering grants of between $50,000 and $200,000 to undertake a range of activities to enhance the automotive product design and development process including design, prototype and testing activities undertaken at specialised facilities and service organisations.