Defence takes on risk with NextGen tech funding

The Governement has launched its $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund, to foster Australian defence capability and innovation while embracing the risk of failure.

“As our enemies devise new ways to attack, our Defence Force must have advanced ways to respond and overcome new threats,” Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said as he announced the initiative.

The fund is designed to provide the creative solutions Defence needs while simultaneously benefiting industry. This is the first time ever any Australian Government has used defence dollars to drive innovation in this way.

“This is a ten year strategic research and development program that will deliver game-changing capabilities for the ADF of the future,” Minister Pyne said.

“This fund will draw on the collective scientific expertise of our nation across both industry and university sectors, to give the ADF a winning edge with advanced technologies.”

Minister Pyne said to kick off the program the Government would invest $16.8 million by June 2017.

“The first program as part of the fund will be Grand Challenges, where Defence puts forward a problem with no easy solutions and asks Australians to come up with an answer.

“These challenges will require joint, multi-disciplinary research across organisations to resolve. The first such challenge, which will soon be open to proposals, is to Counter Improvised Threats, which are constantly evolving and confronting our troops,” he said.

The Grand Challenges will bring small agile companies, including start-ups, larger companies and academic researchers to work alongside Defence scientists in pursuing large-scale, mission-focussed projects with clearly-defined end goals.

Minister Pyne said the fund would also establish Defence Cooperative Research Centres, university research networks, a Defence research accelerator scheme, an innovation research initiative for small business, and expanded technology foresighting activities.

“These are only a few of several new initiatives to be developed,” he said. “There are a range of opportunities for universities and companies to contribute innovative technology solutions to defeat future threats, many of which are not even on the radar today.

Defence’s Science and Technology Group will lead the forward-looking research program focused on nine transformational technology areas, highlighted in the 2016 Defence White Paper:

  • cyber security
  • space capabilities
  • quantum technologies
  • trusted autonomous systems
  • enhanced human performance
  • medical countermeasures
  • multi-disciplinary material sciences
  • integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
  • advanced sensors, hypersonics and directed energy capabilities.

Fact sheets for each measure of the Fund launched today can be found here

The CEO of the nation's largest Defence prime BAE Systems Australia said there was opportunity to utilise new technology to deliver increased capability and to do so in a way that benefits the entire nation.

“We look forward to continuing to work with DST Group on conducting world leading collaborative research in defence technologies,” Glynn Phillips said.

 
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