Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring

Page last updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2022 - 1:22pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Western Australian Government, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Food Industry Innovation program, has signed a four-year agreement to bring a world-first manufacturing initiative to Western Australia.

WA is the first jurisdiction outside the UK to gain access to the Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring program (Shoestring), developed by Cambridge University with the support of the UK Government.

The Shoestring program will help businesses answer the following questions:

  • What simple low-cost digital solutions could my business consider?
  • How do I decide where to start?
  • What are my business's digital priorities?
  • How do our priorities compare with other businesses?
  • Which digital solutions could make my business more competitive?
  • What comes next?

Shoestring supports low-cost and simple digitalisation for small to medium enterprises (SME) and has prioritised low-risk solutions that can be installed one at a time.

Individual solution components are available for only a few hundred dollars and are simple enough to be operated by existing business employees.

Why is digital manufacturing important?

The adoption of digital technologies is essential for WA businesses to maintain international competitiveness as trading partners, customers, and suppliers. Australia is underperforming in digital adoption - SMEs risk being left behind as other markets move forward.

Despite significant incentives and support offered by national governments around the world, uptake of digitalisation by SMEs has remained low.

High costs and complex technologies that accompany corporate-scale digital solutions present significant barriers to SMEs. Research shows that effectively addressing SME-needs requires a new approach; one that is driven from a clear understanding of what SMEs want from digitalisation. The Cambridge Shoestring initiative is the leader in delivering simple low-cost digital manufacturing solutions for SMEs.

Digitalisation can deliver better customer experiences, enhance consistency and quality, combat labour shortages and boost competitiveness in local and international markets.

“We consider Shoestring is a positive and disruptive step in the right direction with the potential to generate significant benefit for SME businesses. The benefits will extend far beyond the Western Australian context as other regions recognise the power of this model and come on board allowing Shoestring the development runway (budget, space and time) to fully develop into the transformational industry development tool that it can be.”

Andrew Duff, Research Report Author, DPIRD Western Australia

How Shoestring works

The Shoestring experience starts with businesses attending group workshops that helps identify their digitalisation priorities. Then, the Shoestring team works with individual businesses to tailor solutions to their needs.

More about the Shoestring approach is available through these web resources supplied by the UK program:

To express interest in building your business digital capabilities contact Food Industry Innovation.

Contact information

Food Industry Innovation
+61 (0)8 9881 0221