Australia’s defence innovation ecosystem continues to grow with the Federal Government’s endorsement of the Defence Trailblazer: Concept to Sovereign Capability (CSC) bid under the Trailblazer Universities Program.

Led by the University of Adelaide in partnership with the University of New South Wales, the CSC aims to create a cross-sector culture founded on a sharing risk, problem solving, and successes, as well as creating a sense of strategic urgency to sustain the ability of the Australian Defence Force in defending national security within volatile geo-strategic environments.

The project will enable researchers and industry to review Defence’s priority research challenges, secure capital for collaborative ideation, prototype potential solutions, commercialise successes, and accelerate the transition of competitive advantage capabilities to ADF operators.

Chair Designate of the CSC and General Manager Asia Pacific of Northrup Grumman, Christine Zeitz, says this will change the relationship between academia, the defence industry and the Department of Defence.

“CSC will address the pressing requirements for a strategic response from industry and academia to the strategic threat environment,” said Ms Zeitz.

“It is imperative that we adopt new approaches, to drive research translation and sovereign manufacturing as key industry inputs to defence capability.”

In partnership with industry – which includes a broad range of Australian-based SMEs – the universities will support and capitalise on dual-use technologies in priority areas such as:

  • quantum materials, technologies and computing
  • defensive hypersonics and countermeasures
  • information warfare and advance cyber technologies
  • robotics, autonomous systems and AI (RAS-AI)
  • defence space technologies.

On top of this, seed funding of $34 million will be allocated to enable innovators to create deployable prototypes of disruptive technologies to meet future Defence requirements. Successful commercialisation of the technologies in both defence and dual-use markets will also be enabled through a $126 million Advanced Innovation Fund.

Professor Peter Høj, Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide, said the university is proud to be named alongside their partner in this project and to utilise its experience in the defence sector.

“The University of Adelaide will apply its research expertise in defence-relevant areas, notably quantum materials, hypersonic countermeasures, information warfare, space and artificial intelligence, to help improve Australia’s sovereign capability,” said Professor Høj.

The CSC has received a government commitment of $50 million over four years, which will be matched by both universities, plus $10 million from the CSIRO. An additional $140 million will be invested by over 50 industries partners, bringing the total value to approximately $250 million.

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