Australian SMEs operating in the defence niche must come to grips with the fact that they are competing on a global playing field, or risk losing out in an increasingly volatile market prone to ongoing disruption.
That was the message from former Lockheed Martin CEO Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Raydon Gates, who told Defence Connect that innovation, in essence, originates with SMEs.
"Our present government is pushing hard on innovation and growth," he said. "Innovation comes from the small and medium [companies], they are the breadbasket of ideas."
Gates said it is subsequently incumbent on the primes to devise ways in which to add the smaller players to that existing industry ecosystem.
“How do we give them the opportunity to be part of our companies as we go forward with their ideas, and transform their ideas into reality?’ he said.
"In my uniform days and my defence industry days, I can't recall a time as exciting as this,” Gates said, warning however that “one of the things that Australian SMEs have to realise when they get into a global supply chain [is that] global is real".
"They are competing against the world, so their product has to stand up against the world if they want to play in this particular prime space," he said.