QDSA, in partnership with the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA), hosted the inaugural Queensland ASCA Forum on 14 November 2023.
Queensland was the second stop for the national roadshow as Professor Emily Hilder, Interim Head of ASCA, toured around the country and shared how ASCA’s three core Defence innovation pathways would roll out.
Below you’ll find more information including:
- Background on ASCA
- A recap of the recent Queensland forum,
- ASCA’s core programs and roadmaps,
- How Queensland’s Defence community can stay across the latest opportunities to work with ASCA
- How to engage with QDSA’s current member universities
Who is ASCA?
Launched on 1 July 2023, the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) is dedicated to delivering Defence capabilities further, faster with a streamlined approach to catalyse innovation, development, and quicker acquisition pathways.
ASCA connects the defence innovation system through the release of defined missions aimed at solving the most urgent Defence needs. The organisation is focused on creating a flexible and agile approach to procurement to expedite capability delivery.
In a recent article published by Innovation Aus, Professor Emily Hilder and Tanya Monro explained how ASCA was committed to accelerating the advantage and developing sovereign capability in new collaborative ways.
“To address the ever-changing strategic environment, a new approach is required – one which embraces risk and demands greater courage.”
“ASCA has been established with that mission in mind – a licence for courage to do things differently, with urgency, pace and acceleration.”
“Importantly, this means ASCA will not be a one-size-fits-all entity. Rather it will test and refine a range of approaches to develop the most effective solution, embracing risk as it does this.”
“Key to realising this new approach to accelerated Defence capability is a vibrant, connected and integrated Defence ecosystem.”
QDSA, as part of the ADSUN network, is a key connector within this ecosystem as acknowledged by Prof Hilder and Prof Monro:
“Defence supports and nurtures the university and research ecosystem through DSTG, and in particular, through the Australian Defence Science and Universities Network (ADSUN) – which connects Defence with researchers from universities, industry and the broader research community.”
QDSA is proud to be working with our member universities Griffith University, the University of Queensland, and James Cook University to engage with DSTG and ASCA. We connect researchers at those institutions directly with relevant Defence personnel, as well as prospective industry partners to strengthen applications for support. This includes collaborative submissions for all three ASCA pathways including Missions, Innovation Incubation and EDT programs which are explained in more detail below.
Queensland ASCA Forum 2023 Recap
In November 2023, more than 120 attendees from Queensland’s Defence community including academia, Primes, SMEs, Government and Defence gathered for the Queensland ASCA Forum in Brisbane.
Prof Emily Hilder shared an update on ASCA priorities since its inception and the avenues for Queensland industry and researchers to help shape, innovate and deliver new Defence capability.
More details about ASCA programs can be found below.
The event also gave Queensland’s defence community the opportunity to connect and network face-to-face.
How Queensland’s defence industry can work with ASCA
ASCA will offer three pathways for collaboration to drive Defence innovation:
- Innovation Incubation
- Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (EDT)
While priorities are delivered via Missions, two other programs (Innovation Incubation and EDT) will support the Missions and contribute to existing and planned missions.
Missions are the core of ASCA’s approach. These are driven by problem statements aligned to Defence priorities and endorsed by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force designed to develop end-to-end pathways to Defence.
To meet Defence’s strategic needs, ASCA missions are driven to deliver tangible capability outcomes in accelerated timeframes.
At the Queensland ASCA Forum Prof Emily Hilder indicated most missions would be limited to 3 years.
Once a mission has an endorsed pathway to acquisition, ASCA will be looking to engage a mission leader from the broader ecosystem, not within Defence.
According to Prof Hilder and Prof Monro, “Our nation’s most capable technical leaders will drive ASCA missions – recruited to ASCA on fixed-term contracts for the duration of the mission (typically three years).
“These leaders will be supported by Defence scientists, military end-users, and dedicated acquisition and professional backing. These missions will deliver ‘minimum viable capability’, not prototypes.” As published in the Innovation Aus article here.
Missions will follow the below timeline:
- Release problem statement
- Release approach to market
- Industry briefing
- ATM close/evaluation
- Co-design begins (8-week initial period with optional 4-week extension)
- Mission delivery (up to 3 years) begins
At the time of publishing this article, ASCA has released its first two problem statements:
Mission 1: How might we penetrate and degrade advanced integrated air defence systems so Defence can conduct effective long range strike operations taking into account speed and scale required to operate in congested and contested environments that is faster than a potential adversary’s ability to react?
Mission 2: How might we improve the processing and synthesis of large amounts of intelligence data to support their planning and apportionment of platforms, taking into account different classification levels of data systems and allies data systems.
Proposals can be submitted for either one or both problem statements (as separate proposals). See more information on the QDSA website here, including how to submit via AusTender.
ASCA’s innovation incubation program is about discovering new innovation.
It is an avenue for nurturing industry and academia for the rapid development of new or commercial technology for military purposes.
The program will allow ASCA to undertake market testing/scanning, new concept explorations, and new concept demonstrations.
Innovation challenges will be used to identify and support the development of innovations that can be adapted, tested, and acquired for military purposes. These will be short-term, lower-cost projects directed by challenge statements.
As explained by Prof Emily Hilder at the Queensland ASCA Forum, activities under the Innovation Incubation program will include:
- Requests for information and proposals to address challenge statements
- Invitations to participate in competitions, demonstration trials and pitch-fests
- Opportunities to participate in demonstrations or test and evaluation trials
Emerging & Disruptive Technologies (EDT)
ASCA’s emerging and disruptive technology program is about disruptive innovation.
The EDT Program is focused on long-term (3 to 5 years in duration) R&D partnerships to future-proof the innovation ecosystem as guided by opportunity statements.
Through these collaborations, the program seeks to deliver discovery, new knowledge, concepts, and capability. The ultimate goal is to equip Australia with an international technology edge and protect against surprise.
ASCA has released their first two opportunity statement areas in November 2023:
- Information Warfare (Synthetic Media)
- Quantum Technologies (Including but not limited to computing, communication & sensing applications)
We delve more into the first EDT opportunity statement areas here and how you can get involved.
How to engage with ASCA opportunities
To stay informed about the latest ASCA opportunities please subscribe to QDSA’s newsletter here. We will continue to publish updates on the latest mission, challenge statements and opportunity statements as they are released.
Follow QDSA on LinkedIn here for announcements.
You can also visit the ASCA website here.
QDSA Upcoming Events and Opportunities
QDSA has many upcoming events and opportunities, with more being added each week. Want to find out what is on the horizon? Check out our News section on our website here or subscribe to our e-newsletter here.
The Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) is a university-led initiative to grow and connect an agile Defence innovation ecosystem, leveraging Queensland’s strengths, to deliver trusted solutions to meet Defence requirements.