Region/Countries: Australia, Australia and New Zealand Industry: Manufacturing, Other Date: October 2019

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The federal government is in investing in artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.

Machine learning, advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have already begun to transform the Australian economy. As Australian industries are looking to broaden their adoption of AI technologies and drive innovation, this has increased the demand for innovation and new technologies, products and services across all sectors.

The Australian government and industry bodies have started to take some steps to grow the sector:

  • The federal government has announced its commitment to address gaps in Australia’s machine learning capabilities by contributing $29.9 million AUD ($21 million USD) over four years as part of its broader Australian Technology and Science Growth Plan.
  • Australia’s national science research agency, CSIRO, is investing $19 million AUD ($13.5 million USD) to directly target AI and machine learning, and specifically AI-driven solutions for food security and quality, health and wellbeing, and sustainable energy and resources.
  • For the first time, a Robotics Roadmap for Australia has been released.

However, approximately 80% of Australia’s total investment in this industry is undertaken by the private sector. For example, two of Australia’s retail supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, have announced investments of $1.51 billion AUD ($1.03 billion USD) toward AI technologies to develop a network of automated distribution centers over the next five to six years. Wisconsin companies with a track record of delivering products or services in these sectors can find opportunities in the Australian market.

Australia has experienced shortages in AI skills, presenting a unique opportunity for foreign exporters to capitalize on the potential for growth in the sector. According to AIphaBeta, automation constitutes the largest potential source of productivity growth over the next 30 years and the biggest economic opportunity for Australia. Spending on AI capabilities in Australia is expected to grow to $1.98 billion AUD ($1.36 billion USD) by 2025, with much of this recent heightened interest stemming from the private sector looking to streamline routine and repetitive tasks.

It is predicted that 25% to 46% of current work activities in Australia will be automated by 2030. Compared to other countries, Australia may be quick to adopt automation given the relatively high minimum wage, which makes automation more attractive for companies and organizations, at least when it comes to repetitive tasks.

Wisconsin exporters should be mindful of the growing importance of ethics in AI, with the Australian government funding the development of a national AI Ethics Framework. Companies with expertise in integrating industrial AI transformation with good governance and compliance mechanisms are encouraged to connect with Australian business leaders and industry representatives to deepen Australia’s digital literacy.