NSW Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair this week announced an additional $2.4 million investment in the UTS-hosted Defence Innovation Network (DIN), bringing total investment to $5 million.
The university-led initiative was established to boost defence-related research and development activity across the state, connecting leading scientists and engineers from seven NSW universities to focus on areas crucial to Australia’s defence needs.
“R&D is a key driver of innovation, and economic and defence benefits will flow to NSW and Australia thanks to the Defence Innovation Network bringing together our best researchers and our defence industry,” says Blair.
“Even more important are the lives of the men and women serving in the Australian Defence Force.”
The launch was an opportunity for researchers and industry to showcase R&D collaborations, and one of the featured projects, HealthSense, underscored the focus on health, safety and wellbeing for defence personnel. The lab-based pilot project will use medical data such as brain activity and heart rate variability to develop and validate an algorithm that can be used to track cardiac stress and cognitive performance.
“This is really translational medicine,” says project leader Associate Professor Sara Lal from the UTS Faculty of Science. “It’s very important that we take care of the health and safety of defence personnel.”
HealthSense is a multidisciplinary, collaborative project bringing in Distinguished Professor CT Lin from the UTS School of Software, along with researchers from UNSW Sydney, University of Sydney and Western Sydney University.
This is really translational medicine. It’s very important that we take care of the health and safety of defence personnel.
Sara Lal, UTS
At the end of the one-year project, the team aims to have a prototype health technology built into head and wrist bands as wearable devices that can monitor and provide feedback on an individual’s health status. Eventually such predictive algorithms will be able to assist the wearer during medical emergencies such as severe fatigue, cognitive impairment and cardiac risks. Lal predicts this will not only improve wellbeing, but save lives.
In the 12 months since its establishment the DIN has already provided $650,000 in project funding to solve problems in areas such as drone detection and the use of artificial intelligence systems for mine detection.
DIN Director UTS Professor Bradley Williams says facilitating links across the defence sector ensures the best university research “becomes tied to a commercialisation pathway”.
“We work closely with the Defence Science and Technology Group, Australian Defence Force and defence companies, to keep our R&D focused on outcomes and impact.”
The event drew more than 150 delegates representing the defence sector and DIN stakeholders, including State and Federal Government, ADF, DST Group, defence companies and academics, and included many senior representatives including Assistant Minister for Defence Senator David Fawcett, Minister Niall Blair, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte and other leaders in defence and industry.
NSW university DIN members: Macquarie University, The University of Sydney, UNSW Sydney, University of Newcastle, UTS, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University