The role of the Defence Materials Technology Centre has seen dramatic change over the past few years, having developed a keen sense of the need to integrate research and innovation drives into the wider defence strategy.
That’s the key message DMTC CEO Mark Hodge highlighted in a discussion with Defence Connect’s Philip Tarrant.
"What we've seen more recently with the advent of the defence industry policy statement is that defence has taken a much more integrated view and brought defence innovation into the strategic centre of defence through the construction of the Defence Innovation Hub," said Hodge. "A lot of that thinking and a lot of that foresighting and planning has been done at a very high level, a very sophisticated level, bringing… groups who are creating an innovation pipeline."
Hodge, who has served at DMTC for nearly a decade, said the organisation was initially created as part of a competitive process to win grant funding from Defence.
"We said, 'This is what we'll do for that', and there was seven years’ worth of activities laid out," he said. "What was missing from that, was that ongoing connectivity with the defence customer to say, 'Well, we thought we needed this but actually our needs have changed'."
As a result, Hodge said, DMTC had opted to build up its own structures in the organisation to understand what the defence customer needed. "And [we also sought] to gauge what the industry sector could deliver and where they wanted to go commercially so that we could align our activities with that," he added.
Additionally, DMTC faced what Hodge cast as "continual challenges to understand where the research capability is in the Australian research networks through the universities, through the Defence Science Technology Group, through the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and through CSIRO."
"And so a lot of that now informs our decision-making and informs our positioning as an organisation. Whereas in previous years we've had to engage in various ways with the defence organisation, with industry organisation, by the establishment of advisory panels and advisory groups, which were very, very useful and very effective, the change with the defence policy statement has brought that into the strategic centre of defence and so it's been a really positive development."