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Carbon Nexus Research Group Leader, Prof Russell Varley; Carbon Nexus Director, Derek Buckmaster; and Advanced Fibre Cluster CEO, Jennifer Conley.

Deakin University has welcomed the appointment of leading advanced manufacturing advocate and strategic communications specialist Jennifer Conley as CEO of the Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong.

The Advanced Fibre Cluster Geelong (AFCG) is an initiative from a group of highly innovative Geelong companies, with the goal of establishing the region as a global centre of excellence for advanced fibre and composites innovation.

The Cluster is led by the Geelong Manufacturing Council with support from Deakin University and engineering firm Austeng.

Ms Conley will support Cluster members in generating new opportunities and investment for their businesses and the Geelong community. Other such dedicated cluster initiatives have been shown to be highly successful in spurring the commercialisation of new technologies, and creating new revenue streams for companies and their wider regions.

Deakin Carbon Nexus Director Derek Buckmaster, who is a member of the AFCG board, said the Cluster had entered a new phase with Ms Conley’s appointment.

“We are very excited to welcome Jennifer to this new role,” Mr Buckmaster said.

“Jennifer’s credentials as a leader in the field of industry and research collaboration, and her work boosting innovation and Australian success in advanced manufacturing, are well known.”

Ms Conley comes to the AFCG following two decades working at the intersection of industry, research and government. From 2011 to 2017 she was chief strategy designer, then inaugural Executive Director, for the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council – Australia’s first private sector initiative supporting the emerging advanced manufacturing sector.

“I am very excited to be contributing to some of the most innovative companies and organisations in the advanced manufacturing sector in this country,” Ms Conley said.

“These are creative companies gaining access to high value global supply chains with new solutions and products. Deakin’s role has been pivotal in the development and acceleration of advanced fibre technology so it is perfect that the Cluster will be based out of Deakin’s ManuFutures building.

“We know from international experience that clusters work best when there is a geographic concentration – people share knowledge and transfer ideas when they are part of a neighbourhood, and there is a sense of ideas and solutions flowing more freely. I think we’ll see lots of new opportunities developing out of the Cluster over the next couple of years.”

Research group leader at Carbon Nexus, Professor Russell Varley said it was very exciting to see the carbon fibre cluster gaining momentum.

“I have no doubt that the collaborations established as a result of Jennifer’s arrival will have a great impact on the region,” he said.

The appointment was made possible thanks to a $300,000 Victorian Government grant. The State Government investment was bolstered by a $200,000 combined commitment from Deakin, which is a foundation partner, together with the City of Greater Geelong and the Geelong Manufacturing Council.

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Carbon Nexus is a purpose-built research facility designed to accommodate the diverse needs of international manufacturing organisations that require the cost-effective resolution of carbon fibre-related projects.

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