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Business Envoy May 2022

GLOBAL INSIGHTS Dispatches from the diplomatic network and state and territory offices

Italy's ambitious plans for digital transformation and opportunities for Australia 

Italy has allocated a massive €49 billion, or 27 per cent of its EU Recovery fund, to significantly upgrade its digital infrastructure. This includes the rollout of ultra-fast broadband, Italy's 5G plan and the enhancement of public digital infrastructure. Italy is still behind its European peers in terms of digital infrastructure and use of digital services across government, business and education. When implemented, the ambitious plans for digital transformation will make long-lasting, structural change to the way the country operates, dismantle bureaucratic impediments for foreign investors and redefine daily transactions by Italians and businesses.  Australian investors and businesses are already key players in the transition. For example, Macquarie Asset Management is working with Italy's largest fibre-to-the-home network, Lendlease's Milan Innovation District is offering examples of how digitalisation can create smart cities, and Goodman has developed high-tech warehouse solutions for Amazon. Startup Scalepay (a buy now, pay later tech provider) originated in Australia and recently achieved unicorn status. More opportunities for Australian digitalisation expertise will arise as the digital transition gets underway. 

Strong international education prospects in Monterrey, Mexico

Mexico's key industrial city Monterrey in the state of Nuevo Leon is seeking to leverage its strong education and innovation ecosystem to attract international partners and investment. Nuevo Leon is an economic and industrial powerhouse, with GDP per capita almost twice the Mexican national average. Monterrey institutions are closely linked to Europe and the US, but Australia is seen as a diversification partner that can act as a bridge into the Indo-Pacific. Internationalisation is central to the strategic plans at Monterrey's three leading universities (Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon, the University of Monterrey and Tec de Monterrey), including delivering more courses in English to facilitate joint programs and deepen cooperation beyond traditional student exchange and study abroad models. There is particular interest in enhancing collaboration, particularly in applied research.


Australia’s Ambassador to Mexico, Remo Moretta, tries out virtual reality goggles in the medical lab at Tec de Monterrey
Australia’s Ambassador to Mexico, Remo Moretta, tries out virtual reality goggles in the medical lab at Tec de Monterrey.

Malaysia's growing hydrogen production and opportunities for Australia

Malaysia is incrementally growing its capacity to produce hydrogen fuel from both renewable and non-renewable sources. There is also appetite for carbon capture, utilisation and storage alongside oil and gas extraction to produce blue hydrogen. Malaysia's hydrogen fuel production primarily targets export markets, chemical and mineral processing operations and small-scale domestic transport projects. A hydropower dam in Sarawak now under construction and due for commission from 2025 is attracting interest from international investors in green hydrogen production. Malaysia's national energy company, Petronas, and the Sarawak State Government are pushing growth in hydrogen production to capitalise on global commitments to decarbonise. Opportunities exist for Australian companies to assist Malaysia grow its hydrogen industry and for greater collaboration between universities and research institutes.

ADELAIDE: Lights, camera, action for creative industries

Adelaide has a global reputation as a vibrant city with an arts and innovation focus. It has a proven track record of blending art, creativity and environmental design with cutting-edge digital technology. Thanks to Adelaide's position as a visual special effects (VFX) hub, there are close links between the digital games and film sectors. More than 32,000 South Australians are involved with creative employment.

South Australia (SA) is taking centre stage as a major source of Australian creative services. In the last year the state has lured digital game creators, local visual effects artists have swept up global awards for their film and television creations and Adelaide's annual Fringe Festival has showcased global and local creative talent.

Local productions in 2021 by Rolf de Heer (The Mountain), Warwick Thornton (Firebite), and the Stan Original production, Gold, starring Hollywood's Zac Efron have focused the spotlight on SA.

Local studio Mighty Kingdom has listed on the ASX this year, doubling its team to over 140. Mighty Kingdom's Managing Director Philip Mayes welcomed the introduction of the Australian Government's Digital Games Tax Offset.

Visual effects studio Rising Sun Pictures' (RSP), in tandem with the University of South Australia, is producing homegrown VFX talent through a highly-regarded visual effects training program. RSP contributed to the VFX on the Marvel superhero feature Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

In March the Fringe Honey Pot, Adelaide's Fringe Festival's global marketplace, continued to connect hundreds of industry leaders with artists to explore trade and export opportunities after 30 years of success.

With international borders now open, South Australia's creative industries sector is in the box seat to further expand exports and capture new markets for Australia's unique arts and cultural offerings.


Reuben Kaye The Butch is Back performing at the Adelaide Fringe festival 2022. Image courtesy of Rebekah Ryan, Adelaide Fringe 2022
Reuben Kaye The Butch is Back. Image courtesy of Rebekah Ryan, Adelaide Fringe 2022

PERTH: Fremantle Port leading data-driven approaches to supply chains

Fremantle Ports' Supply Chain Data Intelligence Hub, an industry leader in Australia, is breaking new ground globally on data-driven approaches to supply chains. The Hub synthesises supply chain data from across the country and uses complex modelling and visual dashboards (including charts and heatmaps) to understand past, current and projected trade volumes. It is specifically designed for the WA context specialising in container freight and will soon incorporate a container price index for a variety of routes to and from Fremantle. The Hub provides a clear understanding of global supply chains and Fremantle's position within them and enables a uniquely “interactive” customer experience.

By monitoring the flow of shipping containers, Fremantle Port's Supply Chain Data Intelligence Hub can estimate the proportion of empty containers expected to leave the port that could potentially be used by Western Australian exporters. In 2021, 40.3 per cent of containers left Fremantle empty.

The Hub has come into its own since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing greater visibility of trade origins and destinations, and greater understanding of COVID-19 impacts – including opportunities – on our trading partners.

The Supply Chain Data Intelligence Hub is only the first stage in Fremantle Ports' transition to “smart logistics” that will see it become a provider of digital solutions that benefit the entire port ecosystem (partners and customers), including multi-modal (road, rail, sea) supply chain participants, and the nearby port communities.

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