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Australia’s defence programs drive growth in defence industry and innovation

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.

Credit: Defence Industry and Innovation Programs Update Report

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.

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