Public Release: 

Benefits for Queensland of the new robot economy: Report

Queensland University of Technology

A new independent report predicts the uptake of robotics and automation could boost economic growth in Queensland, Australia, by 1 to 2 per cent each year over the next decade, adding between $37.4 billion and $117.5 billion to Gross State Product (GSP).

The Robotics and Automation Advantage for Queensland report also identifies that embracing automation could provide anywhere between 492,950 and 1.165 million jobs by 2028.

The comprehensive report, developed by Synergies Economic Consulting in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Queensland Government, provides a range of potential outcomes for the state based on anticipated productivity growth and the pace of automation.

The 'most likely' scenario from adoption of robotics and automation in Queensland over 10 years is:

  • 1.5 per cent per annum growth

  • An additional $77.2 billion in GSP

  • 725,810 jobs created - 485,000 more jobs in the state's economy than over the past decade.

The Robotics and Automation Advantage report was released to coincide with the recent Queensland Government Future of Work - Skills and Industry Summit held in Brisbane.

It finds that potential benefits from robotics and automation, particularly for productivity improvements, new jobs, and enabling former Queensland-based companies to reshore operations, are "substantial". And it concludes the faster the uptake across the state's industries, the greater the benefits and the lesser the impacts on job dislocation.

QUT Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Margaret Sheil said it was imperative that Government, universities and industry bodies worked together to enable Queenslanders to take advantage of the opportunities of the new robotics age.

"QUT is a recognised international leader in robotics and has invested significantly in terms of building both research capability as well as delivering practical robotic outcomes, such as RangerBot, the robot destined to help manage crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef," Professor Sheil said.

She said the report sent a strong signal on the importance of training and education in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and maths because technology, robots and automation would have widespread impact on human life.

QUT's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Commercialisation) Professor Arun Sharma said the report gave five key directions for Queensland to remain competitive and take advantage of the benefits of robotics and automation:

  • providing appropriate technical advice especially to small and medium-sized industries

  • developing adequate funding sources (including seed funding) for technical development

  • developing a skilled workforce

  • providing industry-specific adjustment support, and

  • promoting the wealth-generating potential of robotics and automation.

Professor Sharma said much research into robotics and the development of prototypes had been achieved by universities, often in partnership with industry and government.

He said QUT was developing a robotics research project to create vision-enabled, agile and adaptable robots that small and medium-sized enterprises could use easily to make high-value products that open export opportunities and create more jobs.

Dr Sue Keay, Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, headquartered at QUT, said the new report reinforced Centre-led research that robotics is key to Australia attaining productivity growth and maintaining its standard of living.

The Centre's report A Robotics Roadmap for Australia sets out how Australia can harness the benefits of a new robot economy by supporting automation across all sectors of the economy.

Looking ahead, Dr Keay said Queensland was perfectly positioned to host a world-leading 'technology cluster' to further advance development of a robot economy with national and global impact.

"A good example of this can be seen in the transformation of Pittsburgh in the United States, where a cluster of small- to-medium sized enterprises secured $499 million venture capital in 2014-15 alone.

"Similar to Queensland, Pittsburgh's key to success was the existence of a well-established robotics-focused university, opening the door to cutting-edge innovation and collaboration."


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