Jul 13, 2021 at 8: 56 pm

Queensland Robotics’ Cluster Business Model Development

We have not changed the business model significantly due to COVID, rather COVID has given the opportunity to cluster members for better collaboration.

Andrew Scott


About the Queensland Robotics Cluster

Queensland Robotics was launched in 2019 and formed by a network of robotics companies in the Queensland.

We bring builders, adventurers, and big thinking innovators together to launch ‘Made-In-Australia’ solutions on the world stage. Our members are passionate about great robotics, great projects, and great endeavors’. Queensland Robotics is building the robotics industry in Australia to contribute significantly not just within Australia, but globally.

It is the role of Queensland Robotics to innovate and commercialise Australian robotics technologies. Our mandate is to create and advance opportunities for our industry-leaders, experts, entrepreneurs, start-ups, educators, government, and innovators to work together — the best people on the best projects.

Queensland Robotics is an industry-led organisation established to support emerging industrial robotics capability in solving real challenges across sectors including mining, agriculture, logistics, oil and gas, construction, manufacturing, forestry, transport, defence and space.

The Queensland Robotics Cluster Strategy in 3 Points

  • Establishing the foundations: to build confidence, capability, capacity and connections within the cluster
  • Accelerated growth: Leverage key relationships within the state, nationally and internationally to grow the cluster and companies with in, providing opportunities for jobs, revenue, commercialisation
  • Sustainable global market position: Promote “Robot Made in Australia” Brand with transparency, ethically endorsing the UN’s Strategic Development Goals

Our Cluster Business Model

Queensland Robotics is based on the 30+ years of capability development in the State, founded in the formation of the CSIRO’s Robotics division (now part of CSIRO’s Data61 division) and one of the first Collaborative Research Centres – CRC Mining which was focused on developing technology for the resource sector.

This catalysed the growth in mechatronics engineering programs at the majority of the universities which continues to grow. Queensland has been the centre for a number of firsts – First port to be automated, First robotic abattoir, First Underground Load Haul Dump automated mining vehicle (commercialised by Elphinstone + Caterpillar). Over the years we have seen growth in the number of small, medium and large companies basing themselves in Queensland.

Our Cluster Model is based on this solid foundation and the opportunities this depth provides, along with the recognition of broader growth and development of related ecosystems and capabilities as Australia works towards recovering from COVID-19 and increased resilience to future challenges. It is also based on the key needs of the cluster, which is to build confidence, connections, capability and capacity.

Most clusters have a paid membership model to provide some of the necessary funding for a cluster organisation to function, we have deliberately chosen not to have a paid membership model (as we have a lot of organisations who operate on a membership model which has resulted in a flooded membership based ecosystem).

We provide each member company a share in the cluster organisation with the option to purchase additional shares. These shares will pay an annual dividend from any surplus assets not re-invested into cluster programs and activities. This provides a formal way for the cluster members to have ownership in the cluster with a voice at the table for strategic planning and execution.

Other funding sources include combination of public and private sources along with project funding and capital sourcing.

Another key opportunity we are realising is cluster to cluster relationships which has also been highlighted by the TCI Network.

We are still early days in the development, however the intangible benefits are being realised almost immediately, these include connections, referrals and exploration of new business opportunities.

An important component of success of these cluster to cluster relationships is persistent communication and interaction at an organisation level and members level – member companies have to interact with each other.

Our key challenges is bandwidth of the members of the organisation and the fact that all of our member companies have become overwhelmed with interest with the realisation that Robotics and automation can help with business continuity and productivity improvements (thank you COVID). The other key challenge is changing the assumed narrative to the reality: Robots = “Lots of Jobs”

The Future of Our Cluster Business Model

We see the global landscape changing thanks to COVID-19 and the internal retrospection it has caused us personally, at a company level, at an organisation level and at all levels of government. As a result we see the need to be adaptable and be ready to make the necessary changes to our business model. We know there are going to be new services required, new approaches to growth and sustainability, different education models required and support frameworks.

We are only just starting and still consider ourselves a baby cluster in the evolution of clusters and understand the amount of work required. 2021 is our year to complete the foundation framework and brand, establish the pathways for growth for any size of company within the cluster.

We aim to demonstrate some key cluster to cluster partnership projects and programs to help the growth within the broader ecosystem. With the formation of the national Robotics Australia Group and Network we see the potential to realise a Robotics supercluster aligned with the Australian federal Manufacturing Modernisation Investment strategy to grow robotics manufacturing, services and expertise contributing significantly to the Australian economy.

We have not changed the business model significantly due to COVID, rather COVID has provided more emphasis and importance for members of the cluster for collaboration and to work together to realise the opportunities.

It will be important to continually review and adapt accordingly on a regular basis. We are still experimenting, learning and evolving our understanding of what works and what does not work, what we need to do and what we should not do, what is sustainable and what is not, what adds value and what does not.

We see a future with deeper relationships, partnerships, joint ventures between clusters nationally and internationally. These relationships will be of mutual benefit to all involved.

We see a future where Robotics is recognised as an industry, one that is key to supporting other emerging industries.

We see a future where international borders are no longer a barrier for collaboration, knowledge exchange, sharing or experience.

We see a future where there is a greater understanding of the economic development opportunities for robotics and advanced technologies and that they can be achieved ethically, socially and environmentally responsibly. We see a bright and exciting future.

Recommendation to Other Cluster Managers

  1. Persistence: Persistence is key to cluster development, Never give up, it will be the biggest roller-coaster you have ever been on, so when you are feeling that you are in a dip, a low, a trough, push through and you will realise the highs, the peaks, the opportunities. Be persistent with your communication, be relentless with your empathy, nurture the relationships continuously. Be persistent in looking after yourself , it is very easy to burn out with cluster development if you are not careful.
  2.  Engagement & Trust:  Clusters are all about engagement, get out and meet with your stakeholders regularly, develop personal relationships with your members. Clusters are built on trust, building trust is a hands on exercise. Engage with the purpose to realise positive experiences, both for yourself (to keep you motivated) and for the members (to the point that they want more). Engagement can take many forms so experiment with different styles and approaches to see what works.
  3. Iterate: Experimentation is key to innovation and ecosystem development, however it is important to iterate consistently, learn from the experiment, understand what the objective is and understand the outcome. Just because something didn’t work the first time, try again with adjustments or adaptation. Iterate activities that work and continually monitor for any changes. Iterate opportunities for collisions of ideas, opportunities and members, this helps to build community.


Download the full report here if you want  get unique cluster business model tools, expert views on the cluster business model revolution and emerging thinking on cluster business models. Pre-register for the Spanish version coming soon this month.

You can also register for the Global Cluster Leadership Program here – an online certification program designed to build capacity for cluster management and develop strategic cluster leadership skills – to dive deeper into an exciting combination of cluster case studies, cluster strategy and leadership exercises and interviews.

If you want to get a taste of the digital strategy simulation Supercluster!, RSVP here to join the 2-hour Supercluster! Digital Discovery Session on 2nd September (11:00 – 13:30 CEST).


Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott


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