Automotive know-how building medical devices in Adelaide, Australia

Automotive manufacturing has developed a culture which delivers precision products, efficiently and cost-effectively, with a strikingly low defect rate and high traceability. Six Sigma, kaizen and lean manufacturing have helped deliver this for car companies and now manufacturers in Adelaide are using techniques like these to build ground-breaking medical devices.

Adelaide’s automotive experience includes GM and Mitsubishi car manufacturing, such as exporting Chevrolets and Pontiacs to the US. Defence experience includes ship and submarine building, as well as vehicle and aerospace manufacturing. This provides highly-skilled workers, contract manufacturers and a solid supply chain able to deliver what medical device manufacturers need:

  • Nanomaterials, precision mechanics and composites.
  • Optoelectronics and sensors.
  • Firmware, artificial intelligence and data analytics.

Micro-X is building a mobile medical x-ray machine in Adelaide based on carbon-nanotube technology. The impressively small x-ray cart will be used in hospitals around the world. The company has employed highly-skilled former GM Holden Adelaide workers and is sourcing components from the city’s supply chain of automotive and defence manufacturers, an increasing number of which have ISO 13485 certification for medical device manufacturing. 

Micro-X’s Adelaide suppliers include Entech Electronics building the entire electronics assembly, Axiom Precision Mechanics producing injection moulds for scores of plastic parts, and Mincham Aviation handcrafting carbon fibre components for the lightweight arm of the mobile x-ray cart.


Tonsley Innovation District

Micro-X is one of the growing number of medical device companies choosing Tonsley for manufacturing. Others include Somark Innovations and Signostics. The district is a 61-hectare hi-tech manufacturing hub delivering a collaborative environment for startups, SMEs and global companies. Land is available for lease or purchase, including:

  • Manufacturing allotments from 1,000 to 10,000 square metres.
  • Flexible modular pods from 30 to 2,000 square metres.

Tonsley is close to Adelaide’s CBD and international airport. Major teaching hospital Flinders Medical Centre, an experienced location for medical device clinical trials, is just 2km away. Flinders University also has its Medical Device Research Institute at Tonsley. One of Australia’s leaders in the field, it creates strong links between researchers and industry.

Micro-X’s elastic pod at Tonsley can grow with the business.

Great place to do business

As an ideal base for Asia-Pacific operations, Adelaide offers companies the ability to manage sales, marketing and distribution, in a convenient time zone, in a country with a regulatory framework and business culture similar to other developed Western countries. Australia also offers free trade agreements with Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

Adelaide has been rated as the most cost-competitive city for doing business in Asia-Pacific by KPMG on its Competitive Alternatives 2016 index. South Australia’s labour costs are 9% below the Australian average and the government offers dedicated skills packages to help your company recruit and train employees. Industrial land and office space are available at lower rates than in other major Australian cities.

Adelaide is the most cost-competitive city

The life sciences sector is strongly supported by government, including:

  • 43.5% cashback for R&D.
  • Health Industries South Australia, an agency dedicated to helping life sciences companies locate in Adelaide.
  • Health Industries Fund supporting companies establishing in South Australia.

Adelaide is the ideal city for life sciences companies, no matter what your business needs are.


Health Industries South Australia is an agency of the South Australian Government which acts as a single point of contact for health and life sciences companies investing in Adelaide. It’s staffed by business professionals, with experience in areas such as pharmaceuticals, biotech and medical devices. This means the agency understands what companies need, and it provides advice on government regulations, help in accessing land, and introductions to the local life sciences community, from education and research through to venture capital and industry.


Health Industries South Australia supports companies every step of the way to locate and grow in Adelaide.

This article was created in collaboration with the sponsoring company and our sales and marketing team. The editorial team does not contribute.