Australia’s Niche Champions: Finding your niche in manufacturing and innovation


Dr Matthew Young

As part of AuManufacturing’s Australia’s niche champions series, Dr Matthew Young explains the What? Why? How? and Who? that need to be asked when partnering to find a niche in manufacturing and innovation.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time my personal niche in manufacturing and innovation was found early in my career.

That niche was the ability to bridge the divide between research and practical application in industry, the space IMCRC refers to as “Innovation”, but is often also described as the “Valley of Death” for the many science and engineering discoveries that fail to achieve a commercial outcome.

Working within “The Valley of Death” is not an easy career space in which to “Live Long and Prosper”. There is a fine line to walk between practical experimentation and development to build confidence and repeatability for profitable manufacturing (“r & D”), compared to developing a full fundamental understanding and proof of theories and technologies (“R & d”).

A successful innovator in manufacturing needs to engage with the entire business from day one. Success is predicated on sponsorship and buy-in from leadership all the way “up” to the factory workers.

In industry, the innovator should always be prepared to work as an intermediary between all roles that contribute and may be affected by innovation implementation, such as finance, management, suppliers, system integrators, facilities, tradespeople, maintenance, quality assurance and most importantly work health and safety.