01.07.2020

ANFF and our next steps

A note from Dr Ian Griffiths, ANFF CEO

Australia has worked hard to earn itself a little space to operate amidst a global pandemic.

Through the endeavours of a powerful health system, expert-driven actions from those working to reduce the impact of the coronavirus, and the discipline of the general population, Australia has bought some of the freedoms required to allow parts of the country to return to work.

For the first time in months – and weeks ahead of the international trend – we have some room to ensure that the long-lived impacts of this terrible circumstance are mitigated.

The Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) is funded by NCRIS to make research infrastructure available to startups, companies and academia. It’s the responsibility of those, like ANFF, that are capable of enabling R&D to ensure that the hard-earned time we have given ourselves is used well. We’re very aware that we now need to make moves that better prepare ourselves for the almost inevitable return of the coronavirus. We must also provide Australia with an innovation-centred economic future that will help us to recover and that can better survive, pivot, and provide for the country the next time the world comes to a standstill.

Early in the crisis ANFF took steps to prioritise COVID-related R&D, providing various types of assistance to qualifying projects. We are now enabling dozens of projects that directly relate to the COVID virus. These projects are producing protective wear for those caring for patients, developing diagnostic tools to help identify new cases, and furthering our understanding of the virus and its effects through fundamental research.

We will still be making COVID-related R&D a priority and will continue to provide qualifying projects with supported access to the considerable ANFF portfolio of micro/nanofabrication equipment and expertise. If you are working in this space, or know anyone that is, we want to hear about it – please get in touch via the dedicated email address (fightingCOVID@anff.org.au) to see how the network can help.

It’s also our duty to ensure that we inject new energy into converting research projects into products and to provide Australia with an economic future. As restrictions are eased and a more typical client cohort returns to our facilities, we can begin to accelerate promising technologies towards commercial outcomes – albeit under atypical operating conditions with social distancing rules at our equipment and the introduction of new remote training methods.

As we emerge from this pandemic, we at ANFF see an opportunity to capitalise on the technologies and opportunities that have been incubated at our various nodes and will be formalising partnerships and agreements with entities in various innovative sectors to ensure this process becomes as straightforward as possible.

By supporting these new technologies, we are planting the seeds for new startups and product lines that will grow to create jobs, revenue, and not just a more resilient manufacturing sector within Australia, but one that thrives as we gain a foothold in the ever changing global market.

We will also be developing capabilities that can fill the gaps that have been so starkly identified in this crisis and plan to invest strategically to address these shortcomings. We are actively seeking expert input to inform the direction of these nationally important investments in Australia’s future – now is the time to talk to ANFF about what gaps you need us to fill and to help us to suit your requirements.

None of this is by any means over, but at ANFF we can see the horizon by taking steps to stay safe now and to guarantee our future. Please help us to ensure that we come out of this situation strongly, and ask anyone that might need our help to get in touch.

All the best,

Ian

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