The NSW government has developed an industry matchmaking platform to connect businesses with manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) developed the Manufacturing Response Register with the aim to connect the local supply and demand of PPE.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the digital platform will assist with expanding local supply chains.

“This digital platform is the missing puzzle piece that will unlock widespread collaboration across the manufacturing sector and boost domestic capability by creating and expanding local supply chains,” Minister Andrews said in a statement.

“Importantly, the platform can be used by hospitals, GPs and community groups to find Australian suppliers of essential products such as hand sanitiser, ventilators and PPE not just now but into the future as well.”

Ms Andrews said expansion of the self-managed site would allow users to search and filter listings and to match capability with supply. The new capability matching feature allows companies to post their needs, solutions and capabilities online to a live community feed.

“The matchmaking platform has already resulted in local businesses pivoting to produce essential medical supplies for COVID-19 – keeping Australians in work and building long term capability in the recovery phase,” Ms Andrews said.

“I have said right throughout this pandemic that I don’t want Australian production of essential medical supplies to be a flash in the pan. This needs to be capability that industry maintains well after we come out the other side.”

Illawarra nurse Jessica Rendell said while the shortage of PPE can still be an issue, supply had increased since early on in the pandemic.

“In March it was extremely hard to follow PPE protocol since we had a very limited supply of equipment,” Md Rendell said.

“The lack of hand sanitiser and face masks was hard to manage, and not just within the health sector, but within the general community. Now the supply is there, and the [matchmaking] platform would have helped with that.”

Ms Rendell said local production of essential medical supplies should continue indefinitely to avoid future supply issues.

“To encourage Australian production of protective equipment is a really great idea, not only for now but for the future as well,” she said.

The AMGC Manufacturer Response Register has combined its initial 2500 submissions with a further 600 local businesses.