Bid to stop Queensland drones flying coop
HI-TECH drones capable of mapping underground mines and other dangerous locations are part of a new wave of manufacturing being pushed out of Queensland.
But the company behind the cutting-edge development, Emesent, has warned the high cost of labour has sent many other manufacturing operations overseas, and could impact them.
It comes as Industry Minister Karen Andrews today announces a $160 million fund to keep Aussie start-ups like Emesent, as well as their jobs, in the country.
Emesent started in October 2018 with seven staff, all former CSIRO employees specialised in robotics and autonomous drones, but now has 21 workers assembling their world-first technology out of Pullenvale.
Emesent founder Stefan Hrabar said their "Hovermap" technology uses lasers to map challenging environments without the use of GPS.
He said their product, software and hardware, was made and marketed right from their Pullenvale office and was now selling to major mining companies not just based in Australia, but the US, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada.
"We've had a lot of demand and a lot of interest," Mr Hrabar said.
He said labour workforce costs were a significant cost and he understood why other companies had moved offshore.
"If we need to scale up, we'd like to keep a presence here, but we'll see what happens with the costs," Mr Hrabar said.
"Having any kind of support will help us keep a presence here and be more competitive."
Ms Andrews said the manufacturing modernisation fund would offer companies grants, which will be matched by industry, to support investment in technology and processes to make their business more efficient.
"I think Queensland companies are very aware that business as usual is not going to cut it moving forward," she said.
"Queensland and all Australian manufacturers are competing on an international stage, that's why the Morrison Government is supporting them to invest in the technologies that will keep them at the cutting-edge globally."
The fund will include $50 million from the Federal Government and $110 million from industry. There will be grants of up to $100,000 for smaller scale investments and up to $1 million for larger scale grants.