• Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro speaking at Scindicate 2019.
Nigel Pittaway
    Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro speaking at Scindicate 2019. Nigel Pittaway

The latest in DST’s Scindicate (formerly known as Partnership Week) series of events was held at its facility in Edinburgh, SA on August 12 and 13.

The fifth in the series, the theme of Scindicate 2019 was ‘Partnering for Impact’ and was a huge success and the biggest to date, attracting 890 people (including over 500 from across industry and academia) on the opening day and 821 on the second day. The event was also the first hosted by Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro, who assumed the role on March 8 this year.

“Partnerships are critical in meeting Defence’s technology challenges and it is equally important to think of the impact that these partnerships are delivering for Defence capability,” Professor Monro said.

“Thus, for this year’s event we have chosen the Partnering for Impact theme to focus on the end result of our collaborative research and development efforts for Defence.”

Professor Monro also highlighted the centrepiece of the new Defence Science and Technology strategy, which is due to be launched in early 2020 and will consist of a number of ‘missions’ aimed at delivering what she called ‘leap-ahead’ capabilities for Defence.

“Our previous strategy was a strategy for DST Group – and that’s pretty typical as an organisational strategy, to work out where you’re going and why you do what you do and how you get there,” Professor Monro explained.

“However, we recognise that, because of this unprecedented opportunity and this unprecedented appetite from the ADF, we need to do something bolder. And what that something bolder is, is a Science and Technology strategy for Defence.

“We need to make sure that our Defence partners understand how and where they can harness the expertise they need – whether it’s in Artificial Intelligence or Quantum Technologies – we need to be able to play the role of being trusted advisor, to make sure we can actively shape and help co-ordinate and grown and accelerate the science and technology we have nationally to support Defence.”

Professor Monro said her organisation needed to build scale in key areas that are of critical importance to Australia, rather than spreading its resources thinly across a number of technologies and concepts.

“The way we’d like to do that is by developing a suite of national missions; missions that are inspiring, but start to align the investments of our partners in industry and in academia in areas where we can work together in partnership at scale,” she added. “With these missions, we hope that we can really start to build on some areas where Australia is absolutely world-leading.”

Professor Monro said that the missions will address large, ambitious problems which will align talent and investment across the nation and will be used as an opportunity to reshape DST, so its resources are not spread as thinly as they are today and other important elements can be transitioned to places outside the organisation.

DST has coined the term STaRshots (Science Technology and Research shots) to describe the first number of identified missions, which include autonomous undersea surveillance; operations in a CBRN environment; force projection in Anti Access Area Denial (A2/AD) environments; disrupting the Defence space paradigm; a world-leading Quantum Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) system; assured spectrum exploitation; hypersonic systems; and information warfare.

“They will be specific, they will be inspiring, and they will give us the chance to deliver outcomes,” Professor Monro said.

A From the Source interview with Professor Monro will be available in the September edition of ADM.

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