A Western Australian university has appointed a senior Australian Defence Force officer to lead its push in the defence sector.
Dr Andrew Dowse AO has taken up the newly created position of director, defence research and engagement at Edith Cowan University, which ECU said was established to develop stronger relationships between ECU and defence industries locally, nationally and internationally.
The appointment follows the launch of the federal government’s $720 million Next Generation Technologies Fund in March 2017, designed to foster innovation and closer links between defence, industry and universities.
The move also comes after the launch of Defence West, a West Australian government body established in May 2017 to secure more defence contracts in WA.
ECU vice-chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said Western Australia has a considerable role to play in defence.
"ECU is committed to expanding its world-leading capabilities to deliver research and innovation outcomes that build sovereign capability," he said.
"The university is already world-renowned for its cyber security research, and key staff within the university have very good relationships with the defence sector.
"Dr Dowse will now take a strategic approach to identify those research areas across the whole of ECU with significant defence capabilities and develop stronger partnerships with the defence sector."
In addition to cyber security, other areas with defence capabilities include engineering, medical and health sciences, electron science, business and law, and arts and humanities.
One example is the university’s exercise science program, where human movement research could boost fitness training outcomes for infantry.
Dr Dowse has had a distinguished, 37-year career with the ADF, reaching the rank of Air Vice-Marshal. His current role is head of ICT operations and strategic J6 with the Department of Defence.
Prior to that, he held the positions of Director General, Strategy and Planning in the Royal Australian Air Force and Director General, Capability Development, with the Department of Defence.
Dr Dowse said he was looking forward to joining ECU.
"I was attracted to Edith Cowan because of the high regard for their programs, especially but not exclusively in cyber security, as well as the excellent quality of the people at ECU," Dr Dowse said.
"I think ECU is producing work of great value to our national interests, including in Defence and national security, and I look forward to helping realise that value."
Dr Dowse will commence with ECU in February 2018.