The IBA’s general manager Kylie Lethbridge has called the Federal Government’s $1.3 billion fund “a good start” in supporting manufacturing businesses including breweries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced the Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) ahead of the 2020-21 Federal Budget next week.
It will provide co-funding for manufacturing projects that have benefits across priority areas including food and beverage; recycling and clean energy; space; defence; medical and minerals processing.
“It is great news and certainly welcome, and I was really pleased to note the inclusion of recycling and clean energy as well as food and beverage as priorities,” Lethbridge told Brews News.
“We called for increased investment in this space as part of our federal pre-budget submission so it’s great that they’re investing so heavily.
“Let’s just hope multinationals are precluded from accessing the fund this time around!”
In the last round of the Manufacturing Modernisation Fund earlier this year, which offered co-funded grants of between $50,000 and $1 million for small to medium manufacturing enterprises (SMEs), the industry was surprised to see that CUB-owned 4 Pines received $700,000 towards a packaging line project.
The MMI announced today will offer co-funding for large manufacturing projects, and there will be no specific business size requirements. Funding will be focused on supporting businesses to scale, the Government said.
Ahead of the Budget, both the Australian Brewers Association and the Independent Brewers Association have put forward submissions asking for a series of funding and regulatory commitments to support the industry through difficult times.
Lethbridge said that the MMI, which aims to “drive lasting change for Australian manufacturers”, was welcome especially after the challenges brewers have faced during COVID-19.
“The industry has certainly taken a hit as a result of COVID-19 so as breweries look to the road to recovery, grant programs like this will help ensure our industry continues to invest for growth which ultimately leads to a positive economic contribution and job creation.
“Both of which will be much needed as our nation recovers from the current recession.”
Today’s initiative will focus on funding projects that help manufacturers “integrate into local and international supply chains and markets” to guard against supply chain vulnerability.
Funding for these smaller projects will be provided on a co-investment basis and will be up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs, or a third for larger projects.
Lethbridge said that in addition to operation and scaling help, the focus on recycling and energy is key.
“I am also really pleased that clean energy is clearly articulated as a priority given so many indie brewers are trying to tackle their energy consumption and truly care about the impact they have on the environment.
“The IBA are currently developing an energy consumption benchmarking tool and best practice guide as a result of a grant from Green Industries South Australia so this will provide a fantastic evidence base for brewers who are considering an application to the Federal government to improve resource efficiency and business productivity.
“I will keep my fingers crossed that there is more good news for indie brewers when the budget is released on Tuesday but this is a good start!” said Lethbridge.
There will be annual funding rounds starting in the first half of 2021 for both streams.
Kylie Lethbridge took up the general manager role at the IBA earlier this year – find out more about Kylie on the Beer is a Conversation podcast.