As part of its Defence and Industry Strategy, the NSW Government will establish a Defence Innovation Hub at Williamtown.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald announced the initiative at the HunterNet Defence Conference which took place earlier this week.
“The new Defence Research and Innovation Hub at Williamtown Aerospace Centre will be an exciting addition to the region, helping drive more innovative projects and growth in the sector including for startup businesses,” MacDonald said.
“The initiative is part of the University of Newcastle's innovation network delivered under the NSW Government’s Boosting Business Innovation Program.”
The Hub will bring the university’s strengths in capabilities such as cyberspace, control systems and autonomous vehicles alongside firms servicing the defence sector to explore commercial opportunities.
“We will maximise regional opportunities from the Commonwealth’s $195 billion spend on Defence acquisition, sustainment and operations over the next decade,” MacDonald said
“The Hunter embodies NSW’s strength in defence force sustainment with Williamtown home to fast-jet maintenance, and now the renewed potential for naval sustainment in Newcastle when the Thales Australia Carrington slipway reopens at the Port.
“A NSW parliamentary inquiry focused on growing our defence industry will also hold a Hunter hearing on 18th September to hear further development proposals for the region.”
MacDonald said Defence was worth $1.3 billion to the Hunter in 2014-15, a quarter of NSW’s spend.
“We have the largest regional defence presence in NSW with 4,000 defence personnel, prime contractors like BAE Systems, Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, and a deep supply chain of smaller businesses servicing the sector.”
The NSW Government's $18 million Boosting Business Innovation Program has provided $1.5 million to Newcastle University to establish four innovation hubs across the Hunter including a Defence Research and Innovation Hub at Williamtown Aerospace Centre to allow the university – with strengths in cyberspace, control systems, autonomous vehicles, simulation modelling, propulsion and energy storage – to work with defence companies to develop commercial opportunities.
There is a growing market for local Defence startups focusing on technology innovation in the sector, such as Applied Virtual Simulation, Armor Composite Engineering, and Rapid Phenotyping.
NSW Government support for the upgrade of the Carrington slipway is activating plans by Thales Australia to revitalise maritime ship maintenance in collaboration with the Port of Newcastle and Newcastle City Council.