Breaking down the barriers to Industry 4.0 in the north

Breaking down the barriers to Industry 4.0 in the north Report

  • Author(s): Savage, Gill
  • Published: 2022
  • Publisher: Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Abstract: There’s a lot of hype surrounding Industry 4.0, but the hype obfuscates a deeper understanding, particularly about what it isn’t and what’s needed to support Australian innovators. Australia’s brief modern history is peppered with examples of entrepreneurialism and innovation, illustrating our national potential. To succeed, we’ll need more than national potential. Countries such as the US provide the economic and intellectual environment for innovation. Innovation incubators such as Silicon Valley don’t just happen. In Australia, those inputs are lacking, but more remote locales are driving a new generation of innovators. Necessity is ensuring that innovators in northern Australia are making a prominent contribution. This is a report about how innovators in the north are at the leading edge of the fourth industrial revolution and the challenges they face. Innovation in northern Australia is thriving. It’s not clear why there’s a culture of innovation in the north, and perhaps that represents a focus for social research. However, there’s no doubt that innovators in northern Australia are seizing the opportunity to pursue solutions that generate economic benefits, contribute to national resilience, and respond to defence needs. Through the lens of real experiences and success stories, this report shines a light on the opportunities and challenges, and highlights what’s needed to better harness those opportunities. In particular, we need to do these things: • Drive national capability through a philosophical positioning that’s supported by practical examples of innovation. • Acknowledge that economic theory underpinned by a need to have large-scale manufacturing and production lines for viability is thinking not aligned with the opportunity that Industry 4.0 presents. • Align government thinking and practice with the growing environmental, social and governance (ESG) mindset of business and the growing expectations of investors, consumers and the community. The case examples in this report illustrate innovation that’s already occurring in the north, often with the support of future-thinking state and territory governments. However, those aren’t overnight successes—the assumptions we make about innovation are flawed. It’s important to appreciate that innovation is underpinned by trial and error, failure and persistence, long lead times and an unwavering commitment to a better future. Still, more is needed! This report proposes changes to ensure that northern Australia can continue to leverage Industry 4.0 opportunities and sustains its innovation focus.

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Savage, Gill, 2022, Breaking down the barriers to Industry 4.0 in the north, Report, viewed 15 June 2024,

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