Interview with Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Chair of the METS Industry Growth Centre
Congratulations on your new role as chair of the METS Industry Growth Centre! Can you tell us a little about the organisation first?
The METS Growth Centre is an initiative established by the Federal Government’s Department of Innovation, Industry and Science as a key platform for the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. Five Growth Centres have been established and will be run as industry-led not for profit entities with government funding. Chairs have been appointed to the five sectors, including mine, with the other four growth sectors covering food and agribusiness; oil, gas and energy resources; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing. These are key sectors government believe are growth areas for the Australian economy long term and an area in which Australia has a sustainable global competitive advantage.
There are four key areas sector the METS Industry Growth Centre will address:
- De-regulation to improve competitiveness
- Improving collaboration for commercialisation
- Improving activity in local supply chains in growing exports
- Improving workplace skills and management capabilities
I am very excited to have the opportunity to lead this initiative for the METS industry.
As Chair, what is your role within the METS Industry Growth Centre?
As Chair I have been given the challenge of starting the organisation from scratch. Each Chair has undertaken extensive industry consultations to understand industry needs and prepared a proposal outlining our industry strategy to the Minister. With that proposal now approved the next focus has been appointing our CEO and appointing the board and all the other requirements for setting up a new company, but with the added complication of getting the process right for government. Once the resources are in place, we will be focusing on continued consultations and commencing some key strategies around improving collaboration, engaging and educating the capital markets, branding and promoting the sector, and working with the mining and research sector to optimise sectoral productivity.
My last two years as Chair at Austmine has set me up well for this role and whilst I’m sad to step down from my position at Austmine, I am very proud of what has been achieved and delighted to leave it in such strong hands both with the incoming Chair and board and the executive team who have, and will make, a fantastic contribution to the industry moving forward.
What do you think is critical for the growth of Australian METS as an industry over the next 1 – 3 years?
I would see it as being most critical for the industry to deepen and strengthen their relationships with mining companies, so we can apply innovation at a faster rate, with the goal of having one of the fastest innovation adoption cycles globally as a sector. This is of course part of the broader aim of improving productivity for mining companies, who are facing cost and pricing challenges.
Involved in that process is establishing a much more coherent collaboration platform. What’s critical for the industry is educating investors and attracting more capital into the METS sector. We need to address, grow and consolidate the size of our companies, because many of them are not sufficiently large enough to economically deal with the major mining houses.
Whilst Australia ranks poorly for collaboration on the Organisation for Economic Development generally across business, the mining sector is actually one of the stronger areas for collaboration. Having said that, a lot of people are still protecting their patch and I don’t think we’ve learned to collaborate well for the benefit of all parties. A lot of that is about improving our commercial business skills and capability.