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$1.5m boost for SA start-up under Innovation Hub contracts

silentium defence opening w min pyne
Minister Pyne has awarded a $1.5 million boost for SA based Silentium Defence pictured here with CEO James Palmer and CTO Simon Palumbo (Supplied)

South Australian start-up Silentium Defence has secured $1.5 million in federal government contracts to develop a variety of space-based systems, which will improve space tracking and ground-based situational awareness for Australian troops. 

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne announced today that SA-based Silentium Defence has been awarded two Defence Innovation Hub contracts. Making the announcement at the opening of Silentium Defence’s new facility in Parafield, South Australia, Minister Pyne said he was pleased to award the contracts.

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The new facility will support Silentium Defence’s continued growth from an ambitious deep-tech start-up to a global leader exporting high technology products. It delivers unfettered access to regular air traffic movements and patterns as well as neighbouring ground, maritime and air traffic data used to further test, develop and enhance the technology.

“One contract, valued at $870,000, will be used to advance the concept of a system to provide enhanced space situational awareness. The second contract, valued at $647,000, will support the development of a capability to provide broad-area situational awareness for bases and vehicles,” said Minister Pyne.

The contracts are for development of new situational awareness capabilities for Defence and include ground-based passive radar technology that will allow Australian forces and their allies to ‘see without being seen’ and unique ‘wide-field-of-view’ space surveillance technology that will allow Australia to independently track and monitor objects in orbit around Earth.

Dr James Palmer, chief executive of Silentium Defence, said, “We’re thrilled to get these projects underway and to deliver not just new technology for Defence, but world-leading capability and new export opportunities for Australia."   

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The Parafield facility is home to Silentium Defence’s growing team of expert engineers, project managers and support staff charged with delivery of the two contracted projects in the next 12 months. The facility provides a base for collaboration between Silentium Defence and its research partners, including the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) and Curtin University in Western Australia.

“This facility delivers unfettered access to regular air traffic movements and patterns as well as neighbouring ground, maritime and air traffic data that we can use to quickly test, adjust and continue to enhance our technology,” Dr Palmer said.

Silentium Defence commenced operations in April 2017 after it completed the national science and technology accelerator, ‘ON, powered by CSIRO’ and spun-out of the DST Group.   

In October 2017, Silentium Defence secured an early commercialisation grant from the South Australian start-up incubator TechInSA. This grant was used to develop prototype systems and to support the space surveillance work. Silentium Defence has appointed five full-time and six part-time staff and contractors with plans for further growth, and will continue to forge new ground in the application of passive radar technologies for improved situational awareness.

$1.5m boost for SA start-up under Innovation Hub contracts
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