16 October 2020

Key insights

US – Auto makers and suppliers in the Midwest are scrambling to find enough people to staff production lines. While demand for new vehicles has somewhat rebounded during the quarter, fears of catching COVID-19 and problems caring for school-age children are keeping many workers at home, compelling employers to raise pay despite the high national jobless rate.

US – Consumer savings have risen by 400% since December 2019. This is leading some economists to forecast a rapid economic recovery once COVID-19 is brought under control. A speedy recovery will benefit Australian exporters looking to grow sales in the consumer market.

Market opportunities

Defence

US – Recently appointed US Air Force Chief Gen. Charles Brown stated his intention to improve business processes to allow greater involvement from small and non-traditional business. Will Roper (Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition) has made similar comments recently demonstrating that USAF is leading the US DoD charge to disrupt traditional bureaucratic acquisition processes, potentially opening the door for small innovative Australian companies.

US – The Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ellen Lord, announced that the US DoD is using industry feedback to draft new guidance to streamline the process of providing financial reimbursements to contractors impacted by the pandemic. Australian-owned US-registered companies may be able to make claims under Section 3610 of the CARES Act of March 2020.

Manufacturing/training

Canada – To stimulate the economy, the province of Ontario is investing in major infrastructure projects – including in transit systems, highways and broadband. C$37 million of that investment is being allocated to training 15,000 students to obtain skills in supporting industries, such as advanced manufacturing. Australian VET organisations interested in this opportunity should contact Austrade for more details.

Health & medtech

US – Clinical trials research has slowed and there is an 18-month backlog in viral vector manufacturing for gene therapies. Australia’s ability to quickly restart clinical trials would offer a significant opportunity to secure more clinical trial projects from the US.

US –  Boston-based Novellus is developing a cell-therapy treatment for acute respiratory failure and is looking to find connections, run trials and develop partners in the Australian market. Australia’s proven ability to partner in high quality research at a low relative cost is attractive to US pharma companies. The US Health team believes US demand for these services will remain strong.

US – The digital health market was increasing by 10–15% per year prior to the pandemic, and this rate will now accelerate. Two major trends driving this acceleration are an increase in virtual services and a decline in in-person and elective procedures. Opportunities for Australian companies include telehealth and remote monitoring, patient engagement, clinical trial technologies, and pharmacy benefits technologies. Companies looking for growth opportunities in the US in these areas should contact the Austrade centre for more information.

US – There is growing interest in finding opportunities to use artificial intelligence to improve drug discovery and repurposing – including for personalised medicine. Industry leaders have noted that an absence of regulation in this areas is inhibiting investment. This may provide opportunities for Australian expertise.

Fintech

USA – Major financial institutions met recently with international accelerator Mass Challenge to hold a reverse pitch to start-ups. They shared prominent pain points with the aim of attracting solution-providers. One common objective among financial institutions was the desire to use data to customise products and tailor the customer experience. This creates potential partnering opportunities for Australian fintechs.

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