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Opening doors to defence innovation

It is no secret the key to Defence capability is innovation. The 2016 Defence White Paper has set targets to expand research capability and skill the defence workforce over the next decade. This is critical to meet demand for high-end quantitative and analytical expertise to advance frontline technology.

It is no secret the key to Defence capability is innovation. The 2016 Defence White Paper has set targets to expand research capability and skill the defence workforce over the next decade. This is critical to meet demand for high-end quantitative and analytical expertise to advance frontline technology.

From intelligence, cyber security, advanced technologies and spaced-based capabilities, innovation is our best weapon against the unknown. As well as upskilling all areas of the existing Defence workforce, driving this innovation revolution will require the sector to tap into the wellspring of Australia’s world-class academic thinkers and researchers. Despite a strong innovation track record – think stump-jump plough and Wi-Fi – this is not something Australia does well.


In 2016, the Australian Council of Learned Academies reported that Australia was well behind OECD partners such as Germany, Israel and Ireland in industry-research collaboration. Why, if we have the talent, do we fumble in linking our specialist research workforce with challenges posed by industry?

At the frontline of the challenge, the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute’s APR.Intern program is already opening doors to help defence industry primes and SMEs access STEM PhD researchers to help drive, focused research projects.

Whether by expanding markets, providing business intelligence or just making better widgets, this program has already helped Australian defence innovation leaders such as DST Group, BAE Design, Silentium Defence, YTEK and BMT Design and Technology grow revenues and future-proof their operations. We will also soon be embedded within a futuristic RAAF project to ignite fresh, unfettered thinking in areas like market research, business analytics, organisational design and workforce planning.



If defence industry really means business it needs to make academic research its phone-a-friend. Only then will they be able to build the skills needed to meet future challenges.  

With opportunities across all disciplines and sectors, APR.Intern is the gateway to do just that. Industry can experience the benefits of engaging with Australia’s world-class academic research workforce with little risk and minimal administration. Best bit – the business retains the IP.

PhDs are trained to think, laterally and creatively. They bring specialist research skills, perseverance, tenacity and logic to commercial research challenges. And they bring with them to businesses the additional expertise and experience of their academic mentors.

Increased innovation expands market share, spurring growth and creating new income streams. Importantly for the defence sector, this means accelerating solutions to the national security challenges of tomorrow.

As Australia’s defence industry sector ponders a vision of the future; the question remains how best to prepare for success? APR.Intern should be a key part of the answer.

So, how does the APR.Intern Program Work?

  • Step 1 – The preparation: APR.Intern relationship managers work personally with each industry or government agency partner to scope their challenge and identify the perfect PhD student and supervisor match. 
  • Step 2 – The proposal: All parties finalise a project plan, mutually agreeing objectives and milestones. 
  • Step 3 – The project: The APR.Intern relationship manager supports project delivery by regular pulse checks with all parties. PhD delivers a final presentation and written report on full project results.

Open up your business to innovation with support through Australian Government rebates, state-based vouchers and funding through key Defence innovation leaders, DST Group, DSI and DIN.

50% Australian government rebate - SMEs, large enterprises and government agencies

Pay only $13,000 on cost of regular five-month project of $26,000 post rebate ($15,000 – PhD student @ $3,000 per month, $5,500 academic mentor payment, $5,500 administration). While open to all STEM PhDs, domestic students, women and regional and disadvantaged students are encouraged to apply.

National - Defence Science & Technology Group

Four-year partnership to place up to 100 PhD interns within Defence industry projects. Placements will build essential industry research skills while driving critical national security innovation. Students must be able to secure a baseline clearance and be an Australian citizen.

$10K Vouchers (VIC) - Defence Science Institute (DSI)

One voucher annually per business only. Covers all project costs - $3,000 PhD student stipend, $5,500 fixed payments for academic mentor and project management. Proposal must have Defence relevance and align to DSI technology themes and Defence industry outcomes. Businesses must be a DSI participant or Victorian SME with interns based in Victoria.

$10K Vouchers (NSW) - Defence Innovation Network (DIN)

Vouchers available to support placement of 30 specialist PhDs to help deliver essential technology and advance capability of NSW Defence companies. Open to DIN partner businesses or SMEs across NSW. Proposal must have Defence relevance and align to DIN technology themes or demonstrate impact to enhance Defence industry outcomes. Interns and businesses must be NSW-based.

By director of APR.Intern and Melbourne Enterprise Professor, Gary Hogan AM, CSC. Find out more at aprintern.org.au

Opening doors to defence innovation
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