Australia’s defence programs drive growth in defence industry and innovation
Australia recently released its first Defence Industry and Innovation Programs Update Report. The report indicated that the country’s defence programs, including the Defence Innovation Hub, Next Generation Technologies Fund and Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC), are successful in advancing Defence’s capability and growing Australian industries.
“In the first year alone, these programs are already delivering substantial results for Defence capability and Australian industry,” said Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.
According to the first-year progress report, all three programs have met major milestones and demonstrated success against measures set out in the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement. The three defence innovation programs have together received over 1,100 proposals and resulted in the signing of over A$80 million-worth of defence innovation contracts.
The Defence Innovation Hub
The Defence Innovation Hub enables Defence, industry and research institutions to collaborate on innovative technologies that can be developed into an advanced capability for Defence.
Funded at around A$640 million over the decade to 2025–26, the Defence Innovation Hub accepts proposals that are ready to enter the engineering and development stages of the innovation process from concept exploration and technology demonstration, through to prototyping and integrated capability demonstration and evaluation.
In its first year, the Defence Innovation Hub received over 390 innovation proposals and awarded more than A$53.5 million in contracts aligned to Defence’s strategic priorities for innovation investment.
The Next Generation Technologies Fund
With an investment of around A$730 million over the decade to 2025–26, the Next Generation Technologies Fund is a forward-looking program focusing on research and development in emerging and future technologies to develop game-changing capabilities for Defence.
The Next Generation Technologies Fund accepts proposals from universities, research agencies and industry that have a particular emphasis on scientific research and assists in turning early ideas into innovation concepts with the potential to deliver game-changing capabilities for the ‘future force after next’. Innovative technologies and concepts researched under the Next Generation Technologies Fund will be further explored and realised into capability through the Defence Innovation Hub.
In its first year, the Next Generation Technologies Fund has deepened Defence research partnerships across Australia, receiving more than 800 proposals, funding collaborations with more than 40 companies, universities and publicly-funded research organisations, and committing more than A$110 million to research programs in the coming years.
Centre for Defence Industry Capability
In this first year of operations, the CDIC’s advisor network has assisted over 750 businesses, with 75% of those accessing tailored advisory services new to doing business with Defence. The CDIC has also awarded over A$860,000 in grants targeted to achieving defence business specific improvements for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
According to the Update Report, the CDIC is a cornerstone of the Government’s strategy for resetting the Defence-industry partnership and supporting Australian industry to position itself to meet Defence’s current and future capability needs.
Headquartered in Adelaide, the CDIC has advisors across Australia forming a national advisory network. The CDIC brings together the program delivery and industry expertise of the Department of Industry Innovation and Science, with the strategic guidance from the Department of Defence, and the passion, skills and expertise of industry participants.
The program aims to build a world-class, globally competitive and sustainable Australian industry as a fundamental input to Defence capability. The CDIC plays an important two-way enabling role between Defence and Australian industry through tailored advisory services, export and sector development initiatives, funding for defence business development and skilling, and facilitating innovation proposals.
At the same time, the Defence Innovation Portal, as the digital marketplace for Defence Innovation opportunities, has been highly successful in soliciting proposals for the Defence Innovation Hub and Next Generation Technologies Fund.
The website provides an easy to use gateway between Defence, industry and research organisations and is the entry point for ‘new starters’ to engage with Defence. In particular, SMEs that do not have established Defence relationships are able to use the Portal to gain an understanding of Defence’s capability needs and to support their ability to contribute to Defence’s requirements
“Through close collaboration, Defence, industry, and research organisations are delivering a strong, sustainable and innovative local industry which can meet Defence’s future research and capability needs,” Minister Pyne said.
Minister Pyne added that these programs represent a A$1.6 billion commitment by the Australian Government to harness the innovation and export potential of Australia’s defence industry in support of Defence capability.
In February 2016, the Australian Government set out the Defence Industry Policy Statement to transform the Defence relationship with industry and the national research community. Under the A$1.6 billion investment, the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Defence Innovation Hub are the two signature innovation programs which aim to deliver a new strategy-led approach to Defence innovation, while the CDIC provides funding and support to Defence industry development, skilling and export initiatives.
According to the Update Report, the three initiatives are helping drive Defence capability, by investing in Australia’s defence industry and innovation sector, and lowering barriers to doing business and innovating with Defence. They also support Australian Government’s defence industry policy agenda that is being enhanced through initiatives such as the first Defence Export Strategy released on 29 January 2018, the first Defence Industrial Capability Plan scheduled for release in the first half of 2018 and the strengthened Australian Industry Capability Program.
Together, these initiatives are about implementing a robust defence industry and innovation system that provides the best capability for the Australian Defence Force, maximises Australian industry and innovation in support of defence capability, and better plans, guides, and assists Australian businesses and researchers to meet our defence capability needs.
The full report is available here.