SA an ideal model for Industry 4.0 transformation

South Australia is ripe for the challenge to progress as industry and employment enters a state of transformation. The closure of production line automotive manufacturing has signalled a new era, with a raft of local businesses swiftly embracing digital industrialisation as the Industry 4.0 technological revolution quickly gathers global momentum – and several progressive companies emerge as shining lights to lead the way.

This paints an optimistic picture for future jobs and industry opportunities in SA according to Professor John Spoehr, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research Impact) at Flinders University, and director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute.

He has seen rapid change to the state’s business and employment landscape during the past three years, propelled by an understanding across local industry that it is now crucial to act swiftly. This is attracting new industry, fresh international investment, new types of employment and new opportunities to the state.

Realising that an employment vacuum could impose widespread economic damage to a city – with former automotive towns such as Detroit providing an ominous example – Prof Spoehr says Adelaide is proving itself a nimble adaptor of technological innovations to drive new industry.

Professor John Spoehr says Adelaide is adapting to technological innovations to drive new industry.

Running apace with international development levels is ensuring that more opportunities for high-skill, high-pay employment is already occurring.

“Any fears that a digitised workforce must imply a jobless future is not the reality facing SA’s workforce,” says Prof Spoehr.

“It’s a time of great possibility and progress, and SA can provide a model for successful industrial transformation in Australia.”

Prof Spoehr examines this as editor and co-writer of South Australia – State of Transformation, a new book that issues an independent assessment of SA’s current economic, social and political landscape, while also exploring options and policy needs to lay the strongest possible path ahead.

He points to the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in manufacturing by such companies as Micro-X, based at the Tonsley Innovation District, which is manufacturing lightweight portable X-ray machines (primarily used in disaster zones and emergency situations).

It has quickly won international orders for its products, and to meet demand the company has employed and re-trained many former Holden workers, building on their skill set to quickly provide Micro-X with an experienced and capable hi-tech manufacturing workforce.

“Micro-X has been very clever to make best use of an already skilled workforce of former Holden employees, showing how to be nimble at harnessing local skills, people and resources,” says Prof Spoehr. “For a young company, it has a very bright future.”

Inside Micro-X’s manufacturing facility at Tonsley Innovation District, a former automotive factory. Photo: Micro-X.

Redarc at Lonsdale, which manufactures advanced electronics that specialise in increased towing safety for off-road and heavy vehicles, has been one of the state’s most enthusiastic adopters of Industry 4.0 manufacturing technology.

The company’s transformation during the past 18 months under chief executive Anthony Kittel has been remarkable, resulting in collaborative robots being part of a holistic manufacturing plant expansion.

“These companies are addressing technically complex problems, and as a consequence they are generating high-skill, knowledge intensive and high wage jobs,” says Prof Spoehr. “This is the form of employment that we need more of to help underpin high living standards in SA.”

SAGE Automation, a leader in systems integration, automation solutions and data services to industry, is working across a raft of different industries, including defence, mining, transportation, logistics, utilities and manufacturing. Prof Spoehr says SAGE is helping local companies to take advantage of the digital revolution.

He notes that SAGE’s location within the Tonsley Innovation District has been transformative for the company, providing great benefits through its proximity to other innovative tech companies along with Flinders University researchers and leading students, with whom it has entered numerous collaborations.

A bird’s eye view (Dec, 2017) of the former Elizabeth Holden site, which has now been transformed into Lionsgate Business Park.

“This shows that the collaborations between universities and companies should be stronger in SA, because this will help accelerate the uptake of innovations in industry – and this is the crucial step forward.”

These leading businesses are also guiding the transition from old manufacturing to dynamic new tech industries and specialist manufacturers at the Tonsley Innovation District and Lionsgate Business Park in Elizabeth, both former automotive manufacturing plants.

The success of these districts also points to a promising pathway for current development of a new hi-tech industry hub at Lot Fourteen, within the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site in Adelaide.

“It shows that strong commitment and vision can transform sites into advanced manufacturing precincts,” says Prof Spoehr.

“Manufacturing employment did grow in SA during 2018, but now there has to be double the support for emerging SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) to remain at the cutting edge of what is happening globally.

“Australia must be a champion of innovation in both our services and manufacturing sectors – and SA can play a leading role.”

Hello from SA is the global community for South Australians living, working and learning interstate and abroad.

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Blockchain’s next links – from online games to government documents

Blockchain has been an ambiguous technological concept in the minds of many – despite great excitement about its potential and enthusiastic recent spruiking by the South Australian government.

Now its function has gained some clarity for mainstream audiences through being used as a pivotal component within an innovative online game being devised in SA.

Forever Has Fallen is a conspiracy thriller game that will be played across different media types such as social media, websites, mobile and real-world events such as scavenger hunts and escape rooms.

The game will use blockchain technology to register ledger functions that players use to verify where they are in the game, along with ownership of digital goods and collectibles, and issuing rewards for completing tasks.

The attractive function of blockchain is that it allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. It serves an incorruptible digital ledger of separate blocks of information that are chained together in sequence, time stamped and managed by a cluster of computers rather than a single entity.

Blockchain is a pivotal component of the locally developed online game Forever Has Fallen.

Therefore, no centralised version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt, making it an especially secure system for transferring financial transactions and confidential documents.

Originally devised for the Bitcoin digital currency, blockchain is now being applied by tech companies to serve other functions – with Adelaide-based marketing and communications entrepreneur Kimon Lycos being the first to apply it to entertainment and gaming with Forever Has Fallen.

Hoping to re-imagine the blockbuster screen entertainment format, Kimon has worked with his development team to present an interactive game that involves direct interaction with story characters, challenges and puzzles. At the game’s core will be Forever Coin digital tokens, a form of digital currency that will rely on blockchain technology to track and authenticate tokens used by game players.

“Our model is far more cost-effective at producing blockbuster storytelling than a conventional Hollywood movie franchise,” says Kimon. “We will be able to fuse the entertainment with game-like challenges that reward fans, and there is an entire economic system integrated within the story, where fans can buy, earn, trade and sell.”

Forever Coin digital tokens rely on blockchain technology.

While Kimon had initially planned to sell Forever Coin tokens by issuing SA’s first Initial Coin Offering, he has now abandoned this means of selling tokens. Instead, his company is planning to launch the Forever Has Fallen game concept via a podcast. He estimates that the company is about six months away from launching its podcast pilot.

“This is a digital democracy – truly interactive and live to all parties at once – which is why gamers in particular are excited by its implication,” says Kimon.

This wider application of blockchain being used beyond Bitcoin is, in the view of Kimon, the start of a fast-moving tech phenomenon. He sees the uptake of blockchain technology having a huge effect in government administration.

“Governments can address the challenges of trust and transparency while meeting the need for data protection and privacy,” Kimon says.

The thriller conspiracy game is based on a blockbuster story.

He points to Sweden’s land registry authority, the Lantmäteriet, wanting to allow buyers, sellers, banks and authorities to track a transaction from beginning to end digitally instead of using paper contracts, thus making tracking and transparency easier, because every party has information always accessible on the blockchain.

“The Dubai government is going all in. It wants all government documents secured on a blockchain by 2020,” says Kimon.

“It estimates its blockchain strategy has the potential to generate 25.1 million hours of economic productivity each year in savings, while reducing CO2 emissions.”

In a provocative article titled Death of the Bureaucrat published by the Hackernoon website, Kimon has written that “we can look forward to a revolution against governments and ironically enough it will be led by governments themselves”.

“This will be thanks to globalisation and a need for countries to be competitive in the struggle for talent, tax revenues and innovation to maintain prosperity.”

Forever Has Fallen founder Kimon Lycos.

However, the need for substantial computing power to realise all of blockchain’s potential uses means that many of blockchain’s more ambitious ideas are running ahead of current online capabilities.

“We are probably still five years away from having the readily available computing power to do all the blockchain things that people are talking about, because we don’t have the necessary storage, bandwidth and processing speeds of devices,” says Kimon.

“I liken this to the early days of the internet, when it took several leaps in the advancement of hardware and accessibility to reach where we are now. I think blockchain is on that same upward trajectory.

“Government can supercharge our competitiveness in blockchain technology,” adds Kimon. “Breakthroughs in new technology only come via support to make great leaps – and I believe that creating a world-class developer centre for excellence would result in SA having great exportable capabilities with blockchain, which is going to be enormous on a global scale.”

Check out the Forever Has Fallen trailer below! Contains very mild language and violence themes.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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VFX studio Resin reaching new heights as projects soar

Post production rebates, revolutionary high-speed internet networks, and a growing reputation for world class visual effects (VFX) work are just some factors Adelaide studio Resin says is boosting business.

The opportunity to grow at the small VFX studio specialising in long-form series and feature film VFX has prompted the Adelaide born and based Resin to branch out and open offices interstate.

At the end of 2018, Resin expanded with a new business partner to open studios in Melbourne and Brisbane, a huge feat for the relatively small business and its 14 staff and portfolio including the 2019 Storm Boy, Electric Dreams, Red Dog and Netflix series Tidelands.

The business’s founders, VFX supervisor Grant Lovering and VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, say Adelaide is a great location to co-ordinate production between the teams Resin is building in the other studios.

“The expansion opens up access to more projects coming into Australia and will enable more face time with less travel to be with our clients in those locations,” Grant says.

Resin was the primary VFX vendor for the beloved Storm Boy remake, creating a digital double of the famous pelican Mr Percival, along with ocean and storm VFX.

Resin’s VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, left, and VFX supervisor Grant Lovering are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors. Photo by JKTP.

“Virtually anything you see on TV, in a series or on film, will have VFX in it,” Lincoln says. “Sometimes it’s as simple as they’ve shot at a particular location and all the signage needs to be removed, to changing a half-built location in a studio set to a dense jungle.

“Sometimes it’s simulating something too dangerous to do practically, but the most common requirement is to fill in the gaps to make the audience believe what is presented to them on screen no matter how unbelievable that may be.”

Despite Resin’s work ending up on small screens and cinemas nationally and worldwide, the business’s founders say Adelaide will remain as the headquarters.

“Fortunately the opportunity to do this work from any location means we don’t need to relocate to Los Angeles,” Lincoln says. “Regular visits make me appreciate Adelaide’s five minute commute to the studio.”

VFX supervisor Grant agrees, adding that the rollout of the city’s Ten Gigabit ultra-fast fibre optic network has been a tremendous benefit, however, it’s the state’s sound training facilities and VFX education courses training the next generation of VFX professionals that is helping grow VFX as an industry in Adelaide.

“For the younger generation that’s coming through now, there are heaps of good (VFX and post production) courses available in SA through our universities and private education institutions,” he says.

“We have great training facilities all around us and we have brilliant physical infrastructure that allows us to compete internationally.”

A shot from TV series Electric Dreams (Sony Studios).

SA’s Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) rebate is also making Adelaide an attractive place for large budget international productions.

The offset sees companies receive a 10% rebate on their SA expenditure. Combined with the Federal Government’s PDV offset of 30%, international films can apply for a total combined 40% rebate on expenditure on post production, digital and VFX works on eligible projects.

Resin was born in 2006, with Grant and Lincoln partnering to create a post-production and VFX studio specialising in television advertisements. The work was consistently flowing and in 2010 Resin began working internationally for clients including Disney and Braun over a two to three year period.

Despite the distance between SA, the US and Europe, Resin continued effortlessly to base itself in Adelaide and complete all works from its small studio with about 17 staff at its peak.

But due to an economic downturn in the US and with the Aussie dollar soaring, international work for Resin began to contract and so the business focused itself on more local projects.

Resin’s Lincoln Wogan, left, and Grant Lovering, with the digital double of Storm Boy’s famous pelican Mr Percival.  Photo by JKTP.

By 2015, Resin had completed a few TV and film projects, including film Red Dog, when it became the sole VFX vendor for US series Hunters, with executive producer Gale Anne Hurd of The Walking Dead and Terminator franchises.

“At the end of that project we came away knowing this was our future … we pieced together that production in advertising wasn’t a growing market, shifts were happening,” Grant says.

“We were in the emergence of Netflix and all the other streamers as well so it was quite a good opportunity in the marketplace.”

With an increase in streamed content creating a demand for long-form VFX work, Resin changed its focus to rely solely on TV and film work, joining Ausfilm and focusing itself in LA. That focus led to the opportunity to work on Sony TV series Electric Dreams, an anthology of stories from Philip K Dick (Bladerunner). Resin travelled to Chicago and completed on-set supervision and VFX on two episodes, while also working on The Tick (Sony) and Queen of the South (Fox).

Growth at Resin has been on a healthy upward climb over the past three years. Grant and Lincoln say they are preparing for work to “explode”.

“We’ll need to make a decision about how much we want to grow in the next 12 months with some great projects lining up, it’s that significant,” Grant says.

Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors for creative industries.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Embracing the new technological frontier starts in SA

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the great engines of change driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0, as it is commonly called – and Adelaide has quickly positioned itself as an important hub for helping businesses implement the great challenge to adapt and innovate.

This has resulted in local companies automating tasks from screening for urinary tract infections to monitoring pests inside horticultural greenhouses, using innovative computer programs and machines that have been invented locally.

The Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), located on North Terrace but soon to be relocated within the Lot Fourteen innovation hub (the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site), offers South Australian businesses the chance to be early machine learning adaptors.

Having emerged in early 2018 from the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Visual Technologies (ACTV), led by global expert in video semantics Professor Anton van den Hengel, the AIML has received $7.1 million funding from the State Government (in addition to $5 million invested by the University of Adelaide) to work on such programs as improving traffic flow, defence projects and assisting the progression of emerging small and medium-sized enterprises.

The AIML is ranked third in the world in computer vision research. Its work is also focused on applying research outcomes to industry.

The institute’s impact and influence is growing rapidly. In the decade since ACTV began and morphed into AIML, the team has grown from five people to more than 100, including the brightest minds emerging from the university’s mathematics and computer science courses.

While a third of AIML’s work pursues pure research, which has it currently ranked third in the world in computer vision, it also focuses on applying research outcomes to industry needs.

“This research is keeping us ahead of the curve. Technology has a six-month cycle before it takes the next leap – it truly is moving that quickly,” explains AIML business development manager Paul Dalby. “Most organisations can’t afford to staff this, so we have the pool of talent they can draw upon.”

AIML researchers and technicians are trying to teach machines new ways of solving complex manufacturing and industrial problems, training computers how to do tasks on their own through deep learning programs, and implement faster ways of completing tasks.

LBT Innovations was among the first SA-based businesses to achieve commercial outcomes from working with AIML. The company, which focuses on clinical microbiology, initially went to ACVT in 2010 with the idea of automating the reading of inoculated petri dishes while screening for urinary tract infections.

CEO of LBT Innovations Brent Barnes.

This is a time-consuming task for scientific specialists that mostly registered negative readings, and after extensive research, testing and trials, LBT had its own patented machine (the Automated Plate Assessment System) ready for international sale by the end of 2018.

“It’s not a speedy process to develop an original idea – creating and testing something that is not an off-the-shelf algorithm – but now we have arrived first in this part of the global healthcare market,” says Brent Barnes, CEO of LBT Innovations. “It’s great that we have been able to initiate this world first from Adelaide.”

Machine Learning can also take effect at more simplistic levels for businesses. AIML has supported graduate Jordan Yeomans to launch his company Advanced Innovations, which is helping farmers growing vegetables in greenhouses at Virginia, just north of Adelaide.

He has switched their pest monitoring from a manual to automated system, using smartphone links to custom-designed AI computer software.

The success of this process – which Jordan estimates saves about 20 hours of manual labor a week – will provide the springboard for Advanced Innovations to work with greenhouses around Australia.

Other early adopters taking advantage of this homegrown expertise include Maptek, Sydac and Signostics. AIML will also reinforce and improve leading SA organisations from SAHMRI to the renewable energy sector, ensuring they remain at the forefront of global attention and success.

However, beyond these success stories, more needs to be done and with urgency – 80% of small and medium-sized businesses in Australia are delaying adaptation of machine learning, while overseas comparisons show that the rush to make sustained investments in AI and machine learning has commenced in earnest.

“What AIML offers is a huge leg-up for SA business,” says Paul Dalby, “but at the moment, not enough are taking up this opportunity. We are doing more work with companies in Sydney and Melbourne, so we need more mid-sized companies to get on board and build now.”

AIML is offering training programs for company CEOs to be introduced to machine learning concepts and possibilities.

The first free event for this year is being held on April 10 at the University of Adelaide’s Nexus Building on Pulteney Street. (Register here).

“We want to initiate the conversation with SA business leaders to discuss what is possible, and what steps can be taken for their enterprises to move beyond existing boundaries,” says Paul.

“This is very important, because if some companies don’t take swift action in this very dynamic era of change, their business models could very quickly become obsolete.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Sandpit creating animation solution for SA Museum

Sandpit is using its creative expertise to tackle a huge problem for museums and galleries around the world – limited space forcing large chunks of precious collections into storage.

The vibrant creative and technical business based in Kent Town is specifically working with the South Australian Museum to find an interactive animation solution for its indigenous collection.

“The indigenous collection of objects and artworks only has physical room for about 5% of the collection and most museums and galleries have this problem, we call it the iceberg problem,” Sandpit director Sam Haren says.

“We’re developing a product idea, something we are doing research on now is creating a visitor experience platform that helps address this problem.”

The innovative business was founded by Sam and Melbourne-based Dan Koerner in 2012, and also has fellow director Robin Moyer on board to lead the technical team, with offices in Adelaide and Melbourne.

It has tackled creative projects ranging from interactive solutions for the Melbourne Zoo and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for its Wonderland exhibition.

Sandpit’s work stretches interstate, including creating the Lost Map for visitors to the Wonderland exhibition in Melbourne.

Wonderland explores the history of the famed Alice in Wonderland tale and Sandpit’s role was to create the Lost Map for visitors that, in turn, triggers interactions with the Melbourne exhibition.

Sam says four different types of maps use near field communication technology to trigger “the magic”, different video, audio and interactive contents adding new layers to the exhibition.

The company’s expertise will soon attract a wider audience, as the exhibition is about to begin an international tour.

Work on the exhibition has also led to another major project working with the ACMI based in Federation Square in Melbourne to create the design concept to renew its permanent exhibition space.

The centre will close while Sandpit works in partnership with Second Story, an international company with three offices in the United States, on a nine-month concept around its layout and design.

It has been a creative journey for Sam to now be jointly running Sandpit; he was previously a board member of the Adelaide Fringe Festival for five years and also ran The Border Project theatre company.

He says it was during one of those fringe festivals that he was working with fellow Sandpit director Dan on an interactive, installation performance based at the Adelaide Zoo – and the idea for the business took hold.

Sandpit director Sam Haren.

Management at the Melbourne Zoo saw the show and asked if the two to create a more permanent experience for its own everyday visitors.

They formed a company named Sandpit – the name reflecting developing and playing with creativity but in a frame – and the ensuing project was in place at Melbourne Zoo for three years.

“We are actually working with Melbourne Zoo on some new prototypes for visitor experiences at the moment,” Sam says.

The client list for the business based in the architecture award-winning Base64 building in Kent Town is impressive.

It is working with the Google Creative Lab in Sydney to explore new ways to use technology and is also beginning another job with the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, but this is “very early days”.

Back in Adelaide, one of the company’s better known projects involved a realistic robot head called Josh, created for the Museum of Discovery (MOD.) on North Terrace until November last year.

The collaboration with animatronics props maker Marshall Tearle led to the creation of a highly realistic teenage head based on Australian actor Yazeed Daher of Safe Harbour on SBS and The Heights on ABC TV, and using his voice.

“It was created around what’s dubbed in Hollywood as Uncanny Valley, something that feels uncomfortable because it’s so real,” Sam says.

Onlookers interact with Josh, the robot at MOD. The installation was at the museum until November last year.

Josh’s eyes followed visitors, he whispered thoughts or phrases, sometimes amusing, pedestrian or surreal, and was designed to question empathy and compassion for robots and what the future of robot rights might look like.

Sam says there has been strong support for the company in SA with a permanent staff of four and more working on contract or on a casual basis, with the core production team based in Adelaide.

“We are looking to expand over the next 12 to 18 months, we’re increasingly doing more work in Sydney and Canberra,” he says.

At this stage, Sam says the creative business needed to remain nimble in a constantly changing technological world and Adelaide was a great base for its growth.

“In my experience and my career, Adelaide has always been a great place for realising and developing new and creative ideas, and having space and various ways to build on those ideas,” he adds.

Feature image: Sandpit’s Robin Moyer, Dan Koerner and Sam Haren.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Lot Fourteen to sprout future investment opportunities

For South Australian IT consultancy firm Chamonix IT Solutions, moving to Lot Fourteen has paved the way for investment opportunities and greater collaboration with fellow businesses.

Lot Fourteen – the new name for the 7ha old Royal Adelaide Hospital site – is transforming into a growing innovation neighbourhood under the management of Renewal SA on behalf of the State Government. It has become home to a number of tech, cyber security, defence and space related businesses and industry organisations, with more than 1000 people expected to work there by September, 2019, and thousands more to join in coming years.

Chamonix, which also has three sister companies, Exposé: Data Exposed, SecMatters and Cortex, was one of Lot Fourteen’s first tenants.

The IT business was founded in Adelaide in 2010, specialising in end-to-end digital transformation and IT consulting. Exposé: Data Exposed focuses on data analysis and business intelligence, SecMatters in cyber security and Cortex Interactive in immersive learning and development, and on-boarding solutions using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

The Cortex team.

Since moving to Lot Fourteen, Chamonix has employed an extra 35 staff in total across its four tech businesses, bringing its total workforce to about 120 people. It’s also offered employment to a number of university graduates from the state’s three main universities who have gone through Chamonix’s graduate program.

Chamonix founders Geoff Rohrsheim and Scott Grigg say the energy in the building has “elevated to the next level” since the announcement that Lot Fourteen will become home to the Australian Space Agency.

In a massive coup for South Australia, Lot Fourteen will host the nation’s space HQ, set to transform and grow the country’s globally respected space industry and inspire the next generation of space entrepreneurs.

When the announcement was made public in December last year, it signalled a boost for the SA economy and potential engagement between other space, cyber security, defence and tech businesses not only within Lot Fourteen but across the state.

Geoff Rohrsheim is highly optimistic about potential investment opportunities the space agency could bring to Chamonix and its sister companies.

“The four businesses in our portfolio are still growing. That’s part of the interest in Lot Fourteen for us, being here we will see smaller companies and other companies will see us,” he says.

“The Defence Landing Pad and the space agency will attract companies from around the world and when they land here, they’ll need help … so there’s an opportunity to be able to help them with their IT needs, or partner with them in some way or form.”

State manager of Chamonix John Gray, Premier Steven Marshall and Exposé general manager Kelly Drewett.

Scott Grigg agrees, adding that smaller start-ups within the innovation precinct could benefit from mentoring and investment opportunities larger, more established tenants might be able to provide.

“(There are) opportunities for us to partner, to invest in and mentor up-and-coming organisations. People who have a great idea come in and want to market it, want to commercialise it, but don’t necessarily have the skills or the venture capital, so it was very attractive to go in (to Lot Fourteen) from that point of view,” he says.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway says Lot Fourteen is an attractor for local and global companies wanting to be at the cutting edge of technological development, bringing with them new products and ways of doing business.

“There is global interest to invest in Lot Fourteen from a variety of industries from space and defence to rapid growth start-ups and emerging entrepreneurs,” he says. “The site is specifically designed to inspire collaboration across the innovation ecosystem and is an ideal place to plant an office to reach out into the Asia Pacific market.”

An artist’s impression of Lot Fourteen, once fully redeveloped. Photo: Renewal SA.

Mr Ridgway says the start-up hub will also allow businesses to consider new partnerships with research institutions and other SMEs to develop new products and services, leading to further investment in SA. The space agency will also drive collaboration, he says.

“The SA space industry is a mixture of traditional aerospace companies and new tech start-ups with a space focus,” Mr Ridgway says. “As the doorway for other international space companies and agencies to enter Australia, I believe the National Space Agency will drive collaboration between established space companies  and new start-ups to grow and further develop our state’s thriving space industry.”

Lot Fourteen is already home to a number of businesses and organisations across the technology, cyber security, defence and space fields. Among them is highly successful satellite start-up Myriota, which specialises in low cost Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

Another is the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), aimed at supporting local businesses to develop new artificial intelligence (AI) products. The institute recently partnered with the world’s largest aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, who is moving a team of researchers from its STELaRLab (Science, Technology, Engineering Leadership and Research Laboratory) to be co-located with AIML.

The Margaret Graham Building. Photo: Renewal SA.

International defence companies looking to establish in SA will be increasingly supported through the State Government’s Defence Landing Pad, providing access to affordable and short-term office facilities co-located with similar companies and industry associations.

At the centre of Lot Fourteen’s efforts to attract investment from budding and established entrepreneurs is FIXE@Lot Fourteen, a model led by SA’s Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley and the Entrepreneurship Advisory Board.

FIXE is tasked with attracting start-ups by accommodating 650 workspaces, encouraging new and established businesses to develop their ideas, identify investment opportunities, and connect members of the entrepreneurial community.

Commenting in relation to SA’s Blockchain Innovation Challenge last month, Jim said “the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur is delivering a vision to put entrepreneurship at the heart of SA’s economic game plan through FIXE, a new approach to inspiring, equipping, enabling and celebrating entrepreneurs to ensure they have the skills to grow a business from concept through to creation”.

For more information on the wider redevelopment of Lot Fourteen click here.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Global impacts of SA’s creative industries

With our culture of collaboration, supportive start-up environment, and technology infrastructure, South Australia is home to world-leading businesses and top talents working on creative projects seen worldwide.

Creative agency KOJO, VFX studios Resin and Rising Sun, and virtual reality studio Jumpgate VR are just a few examples of SA-based businesses having global impacts and servicing the world of storytelling, film and TV, VFX and VR right here in Adelaide.

Throughout the month of March, Brand South Australia will explore the state’s creative industries as part of the successful I Choose SA campaign, discovering key industry leaders and businesses just like those above who are contributing to our economy and pushing our burgeoning creative industries forward.

Here at Brand SA News we’ll bring you the stories of creative technology businesses and industry leaders who have chosen SA as a base, are able to deliver projects for global clients, and are excelling in their fields.

First off, we’ll bring you the story of a film and TV industry veteran, experienced sound editor and designer, James Currie, who has built a 40-year career and brought you the sounds of Red Dog, The Tracker, and Wolf Creek, among a long list of other classic Aussie films.

We’ll also bring you an update on one of the most anticipated creative industry developments, the establishment of global entertainment giant Technicolor’s SA venture, Mill Film, set to create a dynamic pool of new talent and works on leading productions. The $26 million VFX studio will be located at the Myer Centre in Adelaide’s CBD and is expected to create up to 500 specialist jobs in the long term. Its focus will be on film VFX for major studios and streaming services.

We’ll introduce you to three I Choose SA ambassadors working in creative industries. They are talented South Australians who will share their experiences, explain why they choose SA and why Adelaide is the best place for them to pursue their careers. The first is duo Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan from film and TV VFX studio Resin, whose recent works include delivering VFX for the 2019 re-imagination of Storm Boy, a beloved tale first told through the 1964 Colin Thiele novel.

Our second I Choose SA ambassador is Anton Andreacchio who is behind Jumpgate VR and sister company Convergen and has worked on VR programs for the AFL and what is believed to be a world-first VR symphony with the Adelaide orchestra back in 2015.

Throughout our exploration of SA’s creative industries it will become clear why the state is home to the burgeoning sector. Already we know that our technology infrastructure, such as the Australian-first GigCity Network is providing businesses and specialists with affordable one gigabit connections with speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. It’s making the city a great place for creative enterprises in the software, app development, VFX, VR space to achieve their works efficiently and competitively.

Our geographic location is also advantageous, as we’re ideally located to service markets such as South East Asia, China, India and Japan, all of which are growing technology markets.

Keen to learn more? Brand South Australia is hosting an industry briefing on creative industries on Wednesday, March 6, at MOD. Guests will hear from the Minister for Industry and Skills, David Pisoni, founder and managing director of Convergen and Jumpgate VR, Anton Andreacchio, and VFX supervisor at Resin, Grant Lovering. For more info and to book tickets click here.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Blaze of glory: FCT International a glowing success

From a nondescript warehouse in Thebarton in Adelaide’s western fringes is a global company that has quietly worked away on spectacular flame effects watched by millions worldwide.

FCT Flames has been behind the man-made flame effects on show at every Olympic Games ceremony since 2000, and despite the international reach and presence of the company, Adelaide has always been home.

“With the way communications and travel have changed in the last decade or two, you can do business from almost anywhere, Adelaide is a good place to be located,” says FCT International managing director Con Manias.

“We generate quite a bit of revenue for the state, everything we do is export and it’s certainly significant. Our technologies are good, they’re homegrown and we’re able to offer them around the world.”

FCT Flames falls under the FCT International group of companies which also include FCT Combustion and FCT ACTech. While developing the flame technology for major sporting events around the world is certainly the talking point of FCT International, the industrial combustion side of the business generates the most revenue.

FCT International managing director Con Manias holds the Sydney 2000 Olympic torch. Behind him (on right) is a test rig of the tornado-style flame cauldron used in the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics. Photo by JKTP.

FCT was born in 1984, engineering industrial burners for the cement industry and has since grown to become a leading global supplier of burner systems for the cement, iron ore pelletising and lime industries.

FCT holds a competitive spot in the iron ore pelletising market for burner systems, dominating about 70% of world sales of systems with rotary kilns and indurating furnaces.

“People who manufacture cement, lime or iron ore pellets need burners to operate their plant because they are high temperature processors. We design and supply the burner systems they use,” Con says.

“A lot of the design happens here (in Adelaide) and some are manufactured here, but some are also manufactured in other parts of the world depending on where the project is.”

Con says exports make up the majority of its market, with 95% of FCT Combustion products and services heading offshore, with the company’s reach extending to all continents of the world except Antarctica. FCT Combustion has operating offices in Canada, the US, South America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“It’s always been an international business, we have always done a lot of our work in other countries,” says Con, who has been involved with FCT for 23 years.

“What’s happened more recently is that we’ve grown quite a lot and we’ve been able to better access our markets in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.”

FCT International has a workforce of about 45 people, the majority of which are highly skilled and educated engineering, mechanical and technical employees, some of which hold PhDs.

The Adelaide base employs 28 staff, but Con says the supply chain also highly benefits as “for every one person we employ, there’s probably another three or four people employed by businesses we work with”.

FCT started out as an English company that was bought by Adelaide Brighton Cement in 1995. In 1999 it became independently owned and has since been under the same ownership and management.

A year later, in 2000, FCT Flames burst into the international spotlight when it was chosen to design and construct the relay torches and cauldrons used at the Sydney Olympic Games, with star athlete Cathy Freeman lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony remaining one of the most iconic sporting moments in Australian history.

FCT’s Olympic rings of fire.

Since 2000, FCT has been involved in supplying the flame equipment and effects in every summer and winter Olympic games, including the Olympic rings of fire at Athens in 2004 and the spectacular ‘burning man’ for the European Games in Azerbaijan in 2015.

“The flame is key because it carries the spirit of the Olympics,” Con says.

“The flame comes from the sun, it’s lit in Greece in Olympia which is where the Olympics were held 2500 years ago, and then that spirit in the flame gets transferred through relay torches to the Games venue. The climax is then the opening ceremony and lighting of the cauldron.”

For Olympic flames, FCT Flames usually has 12 months – sometimes fewer – to undertake research and development, testing and construction at the Thebarton workshop.

“In Athens we had flames burning on water, really spectacular stuff, but to work out how to do that it took a lot of testing and R&D and making sure it was stable under all conditions,” Con says.

“It was all quite technical and a very nifty project to ensure all that happened faultlessly.”

Con Manias is Brand South Australia’s most recent I Choose SA ambassador for the trade and investment sector.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Mark Fusco: advanced manufacturing critical to the economy

Cutting edge technology is helping to generate new advanced manufacturing potential for South Australia to grow the economy, according to business improvement specialist Mark Fusco.

“I’m really quite excited for the future in the sense that some of these changes in technology help the smaller companies compete, we don’t have to send things to Asia to be made if we use the technology available in a smart way,” says Mark, Brand South Australia’s newest I Choose SA ambassador.

He says advanced manufacturing in SA is helping level the global playing field so local companies can better compete, grow and create more jobs in the state.

“Advanced manufacturing is such a critical part of any advanced economy, it’s a creator of net wealth, it’s high tech, high value and it’s exportable,” Mark says.

He established award-winning Advanced Focus in 2005 “to help companies scale up” after spending five years working as production engineering manager for global car company Mitsubishi Motors.

He now works with more than 40 sectors in building more advanced systems – and is actually based in a former Mitsubishi building at the Tonsley innovation precinct.

Mark Fusco of Advanced Focus is an I Choose SA ambassador for the Advanced Manufacturing industry. Photo by James Knowler/JKTP.

The company specialises in working with high potential businesses to evaluate the way they operate and to help remodel their systems to boost efficiency and scale.

“If you’re a company that’s growing really fast there are often three things you run out of pretty quickly, you can’t get enough good people, you can’t get enough money to fund expansion and you’re outgrowing your premises, facility and processes,” Mark says.

It’s been a rewarding process, with Advanced Focus winning awards and helping create success stories, like the company’s second customer SA’s Redarc Electronics.

When Mark first worked with Redarc and its managing director Anthony Kittel there were only 15 staff but management was committed to building a global company.

“He had the ambition and we’ve worked in partnership ever since, the company now has over 200 people and is really going well based at Lonsdale,” Mark says.

“You don’t see that ambition often, it’s fantastic to work with a company that really wants to make a change.”

Since then Advanced Focus has worked with the Osborne-based builder of the nation’s Collins class submarines to dramatically slash dry docking maintenance times.

It has also worked with leading defence industry leader BAE Systems Australia and electrification, automation and digitalisation company Siemens.

Last week, Mark was meeting with senior members of the Australian Navy, introducing them to a range of smart SA companies like Tauv, a manufacturer of lightweight military-grade armour.

Tauv has applied world-first technology to additive manufacturing to develop stronger, lighter and smarter armour for defence, law enforcement and the civil industry.

Another is Resonate, a company specialising in the design of custom measurement systems, software development, complex data analytics and systems integration services.

“They’ve created a company called Ping that has created an acoustic sensor that can listen using artificial intelligence … that is being used to monitor wind turbine defects,” Mark says.

Mark is now also focused on recognising the abundance of high-potential companies in the state.

Along with two other companies, Mihell & Lycos and Adept Technology, he established the not-for-profit Impact Awards in 2014.

The aim was to draw together highly respected leaders in the SA business community to help develop and grow more global companies.

Its mission is “to deliver significant value to the SA economy for the long term by actively working with proven, high-potential companies to help them globalise”.

The awards find companies with the greatest potential to impact world markets – with winners paired with the group’s ambassadors to help them achieve their global ambitions faster and with less risk.

Ambassadors include Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director and Sydac founder Adrian Smith and angel investor and co-founder of Australian company Humense, Amber Cordeaux.

Mark says winners like last year’s Supashock, HMPS and Ziptrak had judges “blown away that they have never heard of some of these companies and also what the have achieved and done it in SA”.

The awards website says it all.

“SA as a high cost economy, with a small and isolated population, needs global companies generating profound impact on the world,” it says.

“By uniting with proven leaders and influencers, our local business community can achieve incredible things to make SA not just one of the best places to live, but also one of the most exciting places from which to run a global enterprise.”

I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:

Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing

Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

As SA transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Inside the high-tech manufacturing at beverage icon Bickford’s Australia

As most of Bickford’s 180 Salisbury based staff are home at night sleeping, a squad of five driverless forklifts quietly traverse the distribution warehouse preparing for the morning’s deliveries.

They follow instructions uploaded to a computer system during the day to ensure the correct products, among some 400 made by the South Australian drinks business, are waiting at the loading dock.

“We have a software program that allows us to track each item by location, the automatic guided vehicles will put away stock in designated locations, then they can pick up stock from those locations and we can track every aspect including use by dates,” supply chain manager Darren Wittenberg says.

When the automatic guided vehicles were bought for the Salisbury facility in 2012 the company was one of the first in the state to incorporate the technology into its production and distribution system.

Now the company that sold Bickford’s these vehicles brings potential new clients along to show how effectively they operate.

Automated guided vehicles make their way around the Bickford’s warehouse.

In fact, Darren and commercialisation manager Shane Houghton are often conducting tours of the pristine and highly efficient production lines and warehouse that is family owned and overseen by Bickford’s Group chief Angelo Kotses.

It’s surprisingly quiet inside the vast building where five different production lines ensure the company’s juices, cordials and alcohol products are bottled and packaged.

Among them is the iconic Bickford’s Lime Juice Cordial that helped make the company a household name and, in 2006, was recognised by the National Trust of South Australia as a Heritage Icon.

A PET packaging and filling plant is able to blow, decorate, fill and pack a range of still and hot plastic bottles, while other sections of the facility label, wrap and pack bottles for distribution to customers all over the world.

“Over the past 10 years, the business has become very complex,” Darren says.

“It has grown through acquisitions of brands and assets and they have all come into the Bickford’s Group family, in order to coordinate that growth we have had to put new equipment and systems in place so it’s streamlined.

“One day we will be running water, cordial, juices and later in that day it may switch over to beer, wine or spirits.”

Bickford’s Australia is one SA company that has taken on advanced manufacturing processes to improve capabilities.

As a result, the group that owns both Bickford’s beverages and Vok, the alcohol beverage unit of the business, has aimed to keep its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility it moved into during 2005, ahead of the curve.

Commercialisation manager Shane Houghton says it’s vital to have efficient systems.

Its production lines can be quickly cleaned and switched to alternate drinks for bottling – while the automatic forklifts transfer products from the production shed and into the warehouse using a cutting edge software program.

“Effectively we don’t need to stock-take any more, our warehouse management system has 100% stock accuracy,” Shane says.

The vehicles stop if sensors pick up movement ahead and if they aren’t working, drive themselves back to battery charging stations around the warehouse.

This embracing of advanced manufacturing technologies is an impressive vision for one of the nation’s oldest brands, founded more than 175 years ago.

The Bickford’s group has also invested in sterile filtration technologies, meaning it can produce a number of products free of preservatives that do not need to be pasteurised.

Bickford’s Group marketing manager Chris Illman is a proud supporter of I Choose SA.

“As a beverage company, a vital ingredient in all our products is water,” according to company statements.

“Naturally, purity is supremely important so we invested in a sophisticated water treatment plant that uses reverse osmosis technology. Before being used in our products all water passes through a series of filters to remove the impurities.”

The group also owns a $25m purpose built manufacturing facility, the 5000 tonne crush Step Road winery in Langhorne Creek on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Other assets include the 23rd Street Distillery in Renmark, the Beenleigh Distillery in Queensland, Pomegranates Australia in the Northern Mallee and the Beresford Estate luxury function centre and tasting pavilion, nestled among 28ha of super-premium vineyards at McLaren Flat.

Staff based at Bickford’s Salisbury headquarters and production site in northern Adelaide are equipped with the latest in ordering programs, with the sales team using tablets and iPads for direct ordering.

“We are always looking at ways to improve, whether it be through programming or engineering, we never stop at the status quo and say that’s how we do it now, “ Darren says.

“It’s about working smarter not harder, if you don’t it means more costs and we want to be the most cost effective producer out there so we can be competitive not just to imports coming in but also exporting to other countries.”

I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:

Industry in focus: Advanced Manufacturing

Throughout the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

As SA transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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