While Western Australia's defence sector is known for its strong maritime capabilities, with Austal headquartered in Henderson and the world-class Australian Marine Complex in the north-east sector of Cockburn Sound, Gates says WA has much more to offer and wide scope for expansion.
"What pops to mind, things like cyber, particularly ... in Edith Cowan University. And then in some of the heavy industries ... So it's not necessarily just maritime, but engine building, generator building, sharps, metallurgy," Gates explained.
Gates said the new role in leading Defence West will also see the office seek to identify capabilities from other sectors that can be transferred to defence.
"Also associated skills, such as the submersibles that do the oil pipe work from the leak to the shore," said Gates.
"Those sort of skills, including things such as submarine rescue. So when they first do that capability they don't at first think about it as a defence capability and when you start deploying your broader thought pattern to it and think, 'We could use that in industry space as well'.
"So a lot of it I think, on the early stages here, might well be just trying to identify some of those, and help companies who haven’t thought of being in the defence space ‘maybe we do have the capabilities’."
Gates retired from the Royal Australian Navy in 2008, after 37 years of service. He has served in a number of leadership roles including Maritime Commander Australia, Commander of the Australian Defence College and Defence Attaché and Head Australian Defence Staff in Washington, DC.
Gates also sits as non-executive director on the QinetiQ Australia board, the Elbit Systems Australia board and is a special adviser to defence electrical systems and C4I provider Cablex.