SUMMIT WRAP: Geelong in the spotlight

Australia’s leading thinkers on the challenges and opportunities for manufacturing shared their inspirational insights at last week’s biennial GMC Technology and Innovation Summit in Geelong.  The 160-strong audience heard from more than 30 speakers, including a majority of manufacturers and former manufacturers with decades of experience in the sector. GMC was pleased to also host the new CEO of the Federal Government’s “sovereign investor in industrial capability”, the National Reconstruction Fund, Ivan Power (above), in his very first visit to Geelong in the new role.

Geelong was in the spotlight from the kick-off, with a conversation about the impact of Government policies on the Australian economy, featuring Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Member for Corio, the Hon. Richard Marles MP, moderated by GMC CEO, Jenn Conley. DPM Marles reflected on the importance of manufacturing to Geelong, and his hopes for Australia: “Our challenge as a nation – and I feel like Geelong is very much at the centre of this – is to climb the ladder of technology, to increase complexity within our economy,” he said. The remarkable success of our primary commodity exports continues to hollow out value-adding manufacturing.

This was followed by a series of discussions, rich with key learnings from manufacturers facing an ever-more challenging environment and from companies commercialising new and disruptive technologies. Insights included:

  • Artificial Intelligence is saving organisations time and money, streamlining workflows, and reducing the burden of compliance;
  • Place-based innovation hubs are critical to Australia’s global manufacturing success;
  • The next generation’s passion for a cleaner economy will support Manufacturing in attracting a talented, curious and resilient workforce;
  • Investment in defence industry will raise Australian industrial complexity; Building a nuclear submarine is more complex than a space shuttle. If we want one we have to build it ourselves;
  • International policy trends are leaning increasingly towards targeted R&D support rather than broad tax incentives;
  • Geelong’s region has a superpower for collaboration, evidenced especially by projects developing clean economy solutions such as hydrogen and battery development.

We’re already looking forward to the 2026 Technology & Innovation Summit!

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