A $1.25 million investment from the NSW Government will deliver a new university-led network to boost defence-related research and development activity across the state.
Hosted by UTS, the new Defence Innovation Network connects leading scientists and engineers from seven NSW universities to focus on areas crucial to Australia’s defence needs.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Innovation and Enterprise) Professor Glenn Wightwick says the initiative will “bring together significant knowledge and facilities that will support the defence sector and drive innovation”.
“UTS is proud to be part of this exciting new Defence Innovation Network with our NSW university sector colleagues. The university already has a number of collaborations and partnerships in this area and there is significant scope to increase our engagement with defence research to address critical national defence priorities.”
UTS, Macquarie University, the University of Sydney, the University of Newcastle, the University of Wollongong, Western Sydney University and UNSW Sydney are the founding universities involved in the initiative.
By acting as a broker, the network aims to foster greater collaboration across the state’s universities, making it easier for both government and the defence industry to tap into and utilise universities’ defence research capacity and problem-solving skills.
Defence Innovation Network Co-Director, UTS Professor Bradley Williams says, “The initiative encourages our researchers to collaborate across disciplines and between universities to develop leading-edge technologies and build the capacity and competitiveness of the NSW defence sector.”
The government’s investment will support projects and programs including a ‘Defence Innovation Sandpit’ workshop to identify suitable research pilot projects that can deliver outcomes and benefits for the industry within 12 months; project seed funding to enable collaboration between defence industry small and medium enterprises and academia on early stage proof of concept projects; and a high-level STEM skills development program facilitating career paths in the defence sector for higher degree research students.
As part of the initiative, each founding university will also fund two PhD scholarships – 14 scholarships in total – for defence-related research projects.
NSW Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair describes the initiative as “a bold statement to Australian and international defence firms that NSW has the necessary expertise and is a good place to invest.”