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Industry gears up for innovation funding

surveillance exercise predator
Royal Australian Air Force airwoman Sergeant Leonie Read, from No. 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit, provides air surveillance support during Exercise Predator's Gallop in Cultana training area, South Australia. Image via Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

Defence will invest millions into bolstering its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare capabilities over the next year.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has announced the government’s investment priorities for the Defence Innovation Hub for the coming year. 


In the 2017-18 financial year, the Defence Innovation Hub will seek proposals aligned with the six capability streams identified in the Defence Integrated Investment Program:

  • intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, space and cyber (ISREW);
  • key enablers;
  • air and sea lift;
  • maritime and anti-submarine warfare;
  • strike and air combat; and
  • land combat and amphibious warfare.

"The Defence Innovation Hub was established as a robust program to facilitate and explore the development of leading-edge technology and ideas in support of Defence capability," Minister Pyne said.

"Research and development (R&D) fuels innovation, so understanding our investment priorities up front will allow industry and research organisations to plan their R&D investments accordingly."

Within these six capability streams, the top three priorities for investment in the 2017-18 financial year in priority order are:



Priority 1: Intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, space and cyber

These capabilities are critical to maintaining the Australian Defence Force’s decision-making superiority and ability to conduct operations safely and effectively.

In 2017-18, there will be an increased focus on ISREW enabling joint decision support, cyber and joint capability edge.

Priority 2: Key enablers

Key enabling capabilities include critical infrastructure (such as bases, training ranges, ports and airfields), information and communications technology, logistics, science and technology, health services, and future energy resilience (including national and Defence fuel management).

Defence is seeking innovative proposals for new technologies, improved methods or practices, and better ways of integrating systems to strengthen these enabling capabilities. 

In 2017-18, key enablers adds a focus on autonomous identification technologies.

Priority 3: Land combat and amphibious warfare

Land forces require the mobility, firepower, protection and situational awareness capabilities to deploy quickly, achieve their objectives and return home safely. Defence is seeking innovative submissions for leading-edge equipment to bolster land forces in these capability areas, including amphibious warfare.

In 2017-18, land combat and amphibious warfare will add an increased focus on special operations capabilities.

So far, 11 contracts have been awarded under the Defence Innovation Hub across two tranches of investment. 

  • Armor Composite Engineering (Newcastle, NSW): The Newcastle company will provide a low profile body armour system, which could be used by personnel in close protection roles. This innovation will seek to mature technology, which will improve protection for Australian Defence Force members and ensure Australia keeps up with new and emerging threats ($618,000 contract value);
  • SYPAQ Systems (Melbourne, Victoria): SYPAQ Systems will provide a small, lightweight, next generation power generator tailored to land environments that can be used by individual soldiers and vehicle-based forces ($172.000 contract value);
  • Berkeley Information Technology (Sydney, NSW): Berkeley Information Technology will provide a software solution to support the protection of documents used on Defence information and communication systems ($97,000 contract value);
  • Ron Allum Deepsea Services (Sydney, NSW): An innovation contract between Defence and Ron Allum Deepsea Services will explore the feasibility of a novel, high-performance autonomous glider for long-endurance undersea surveillance ($3,170,000 contract value);
  • Saber Astronautics Australia (Sydney, NSW): An innovation contract between Defence and Saber Astronautics Australia will explore the development of an innovation that will use machine learning technology for autonomous identification and modelling of electronic threats ($275,000 contract value);
  • Trang Imagineering (regional NSW): An innovation contract between Defence and Trang Imagineering will explore the development of 3D sensors that have been used in the mining industry for potential use by the ADF for threat monitoring in conflict zones. This innovation has significant potential for use by the ADF, such as identifying areas of ground disturbance where IEDs, or other threats, might be hidden, and identifying recent enemy movements based on 3D scanning of changes to terrain ($218,000 contract value);
  • Deakin University (Victoria): An innovation contract between Defence and Deakin University will explore the feasibility of developing a functioning hot fire training system using haptic (touch) force feedback, high fidelity visuals and realistic heat experience to improve fire fighting training for Navy. The combination of technologies is unlikely to have occurred elsewhere in the world ($2,157,000 contract value);
  • Grollo Aerospace (Victoria): An innovation contract between Defence and Grollo Aerospace will explore the feasibility of an affordable, re-usable supersonic sea skimming target missile, designed in Australia, with the potential of offering a world leading capability optimised for the ADF ($1,925,000 contract value);
  • SYPAQ Systems (Melbourne, Victoria): An innovation contract between Defence and SYPAQ Systems will explore the development of software-based systems that effectively train networks to learn how to interpret non-standard intelligence products and convert them to comply with appropriate format standards ($274,000 contract value);
  • Data to Decisions Co-Operative Research Centre (South Australia): An innovation contract between Defence and the Data to Decisions Co-Operative Research Centre will explore the feasibility of the development of a cyber threat intelligence capability that could assist enterprise and mission systems in identifying and treating potential adversary exploitations. This novel innovation will leverage international efforts in this research field ($1,054,000 contract value); and
  • QuintessenceLabs (ACT): An innovation contract between Defence and QuintessenceLabs will explore the feasibility of the establishment of highly secure communications links between two points, both fixed and over line of sight free space ($3,261,000 contract value).
Industry gears up for innovation funding
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