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The Northern Territory has overcome the so-called tyranny of distance to become a leader in Australian innovation.

Thinking creatively and exploiting natural advantages are helping diversify the economy and open the way for the Top End to become a world-class hub of renewable energy and green manufacturing. 

What was once considered the Territory’s greatest disadvantage – geography – is now seen as one of its greatest assets as the burgeoning economies of South-East and East Asia open spectacular opportunities for exporters. 

Exports from the two liquefied natural gas plants on the outskirts of Darwin – the Santos-operated Wickham Point and INPEX’s Bladin Point – already power 40 percent of greater Japan’s electricity. 

Oil and gas from the onshore Beetaloo basin and power from Sun Cable’s giant solar farm will enhance the Territory’s position as a global energy superpower. 

But the NT has an even bigger vision. 

The Territory has always been an innovative place – it is a harsh land of extreme heat, cyclones and vast distances, which has forced Territorians, from Indigenous people to later settlers, to think creatively. 

The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre recognised the potential of NT business by launching the $7.5 million Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund in 2021 in partnership with the Territory Government. 

Six projects across the Territory have been awarded co-investment through the fund – a combined commitment of $11.8 million to growing the Territory’s manufacturing ecosystem and a return on investment of 15:1. 

Recipients include Diverseco, who have partnered with Charles Darwin University to deliver four new robotic and automation micro-credential qualifications. 

Diverseco will also offer onsite technical support and training services for local businesses to use more advanced manufacturing technology. 

Diverseco founder Brenton Cunningham says robots and cobots will do the repetitive work. “They won’t deprive people of jobs – they will lead to people being redeployed to other, more interesting work, and create another workforce,” he says. 

Darwin-based roofing company Steeline GRP have also received co-funding through the Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund. 

Steeline will install a state-of-the-art long-reach robot, router and beamline for metal fabrication, which will support critical industries such as oil and gas, maritime, civil, minerals, construction and Defence. 

With $5.2 million remaining in the fund, AMGC and the Territory Government are eager to welcome new applications from local businesses looking to collaborate and scale up operations. 

Every project co-funded under the fund requires at least two collaborators – a business, manufacturer, supplier or researcher – with at least one being NT based with the Territory Government fund matched dollar for dollar. 

For more information, or to submit an application for a grant under the Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund, visit