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Web portal creates more local jobs

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IN an effort to stop business opportunities trickling overseas, The Industry Capability Network (ICN ) has launched a web portal to facilitate the sourcing of locally produced goods and services.

The network, called the ICN Showcase, is a virtual display of both local buyers and sellers in Australia and New Zealand. Manufacturing opportunities - along with summaries, enquiry contact information and a constantly updated status report - are made visible to industry via a web portal, while at the other end, companies registered with ICN can make known their capabilities to potential customers and contractors.

Derek Lark, executive director of ICN, believes that it makes good business sense for both sides of the transaction to have a ‘one-stop shop’ approach.

“A company has the ability to register their interest against a known opportunity, so there is a definite market that they can access. This is a great tool compared to cold calling and other business development methods.

“Furthermore, our sellers can see what the buyer really wants to order, so they may be able to adapt their current product range to suit their needs. In one instance, a company that normally make fishing rods, created a special fibreglass antenna for Defence,” he said.

Registration doesn’t cost anything; it’s as simple as going online via the ICN website and filling out a template. Each record becomes part of a large database used by ICN to source local suppliers when its consultants receive an enquiry.

“Suppliers registered on our system enhance their exposure in the marketplace at no cost.

For major projects over $50m, we also administer a scheme of grants which provide for a project consultant to work within the project and assist in locating capable Australian and New Zealand companies to meet specific procurement needs,” Lark told Manufacturers Monthly.

Case studies around Australia

At this year’s Commonwealth games, Australia’s manufacturing industry could take credit for the new seats installed at the MCG and the Queen’s batten, down to the machining of the special metals that were originally going to be contracted overseas.

Both contracts were a result of the ICN’s Games Industry Link website, commissioned by the Commonwealth Games Corporation to connect Australian companies with supply opportunities generated by the 2006 games in Melbourne.

It is hoped that the ICN Showcase will follow suit, with organisations such as the Deptartment of Defence and Pacific Hydro currently looking for applicants for various projects to participate in a competitive tender process.

One particular venture made visible through the web portal is Gunn’s Bell Bay Pulp Mill project.

Since 2004, Gunns has been investigating the feasibility of establishing a world-class bleached Kraft pulp mill at Bell Bay, Northern Tasmania. At an estimated cost of $1-1.5bn of direct investment, the output of the mill could be in the range of 500,000 to 1,300,000Adt pulp per annum, depending on overall pulping efficiencies and mill capacity.

According to Keith Wheatland, Executive Director of ICN Tasmania, the ICN TAS is currently taking pre-registration for the project through the web portal.

“Through the web portal, companies can look at what packages are available, when and where. Hopefully, when a major package has been let, those details will be up on the portal so that any tier suppliers can drill down and go directly to those underneath,” said Wheatland.

“A major benefit of this (and the ICN showcase in general) is that with a project this size, there is sure to be an imported component.

If Australian companies are competitive with their bid, they can enter the global market. This opens up opportunities for local businesses on a global scale,” he said.

For more information call 02 6285 2033 or visit www.icn.org.au.

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