The Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) welcomed the release of the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) in April. While the DSR sets the strategy at the national level, we are looking forward to seeing the release of detailed project and investment information in the coming months.
The sunshine state is home to significant Defence capability across both industry and academia. But perhaps most excitingly – and as the Defence Strategic Review and AUKUS Pillar II prove – there are incredible opportunities for both new and existing Defence partners to drive innovation and contribute to accelerating Australia’s sovereign capability.
So, what does the Defence Strategic Review mean for Queensland, who is leading the way locally, and what opportunities should Queensland research and industry be focusing on?
Collaboration remains at the forefront of Defence innovation
The Defence Strategic Review reaffirmed the importance of collaboration.
Queensland is home to significant Defence capability and the Queensland Defence Science Alliance exists to foster and support these collaborations between industry, universities, and Defence.
Since QDSA was established in 2021 it has proudly championed the joint efforts of industry and academia working together with Defence.
The Alliance’s partnership with Queensland universities brings together some of the best research minds and industry in Australia to accelerate the pathway from research to product delivery to the Australian Defence Force.
In fact, Collaboration remains at the heart of the Alliance. It is one of three core strategic pillars of QDSA alongside connection and communication.
Not only have incredible project partnerships formed within Queensland, but in recent years these collaborations increasingly transcend state borders. QDSA Alliance is unwavering in its commitment to continue building on this momentum.
Here are seven (7) key areas of opportunities identified in the DSR that align most strongly with Queensland’s current and emerging capability.
DSR Opportunities for Queensland
1. Increased capability to manufacture munitions locally requiring sovereign industry support.
The DSR confirmed $4.1B will be invested to help develop the ADF’s ability to precisely strike targets at longer range and manufacture munitions in Australia.
In Queensland, our sovereign industry is at the forefront of the GWEO Enterprise with companies like NIOA, AMC and Black Sky Aerospace.
2. Shift of resources and infrastructure to Northern bases, needing analysis of requirements, sustainment, and logistics.
This was one of the most widely reported aspects of the DSR in the days following its release, the investment in infrastructure to the north.
$3.8B will go toward improving the ADF’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases. Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, HMAS Cairns and RAAF Base Scherger in the Cape York Peninsula have all been earmarked for upgrades.
Lavarack is one of the major military establishments in Northern Australia and hosts 17th Sustainment Brigade, Joint Logistic Unit (NQ) and elements of Joint Health Unit (NQ).
Most notably, logistics and health will be major considerations in the shift to the tropics. UQ, QUT, GU and USC are all strong in Defence logistics and health research.
JCU also has a large presence in Northern Queensland, with campuses in Townsville and Cairns, and for many academic fields, it is seen as the “Gateway to the North” – one example being the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM).
Our recent Townsville tour showcased the strengths of JCU and reiterated the opportunities for the broader Defence industry, including local supply chain partners, not only those organisations directly contracted by ADF.
3. Expeditionary theatre air operations, logistics and command and control systems.
The Australian Army is particularly interested in Logistics and Agile Command and Control (AC2) andLavarack is home to the Combat Training Centre (CTC) and the Townsville Field Training Area where many these aspects are practiced and developed.
The CTC is a well-established partner with QDSA and has significant engagements with local SME’s such as Cubic Defence, as well as local academia such as those involved in AC2 and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environments.
The CTC and Cubic are also actively involved in the planning for the North Queensland Simulation Park, NQ Spark. We look forward to sharing more updates about these organisations and initiatives following our recent Townsville tour.
4. Research and development in innovative technology.
$900M will be spent to lift our capacity to rapidly translate disruptive new technologies into ADF capability, in close partnership with Australian industry.
Under the AUKUS Pillar II Advanced Capabilities, the development and delivery of advanced capabilities in areas such as hypersonics, quantum technology, artificial intelligence and undersea warfare will be prioritised.
Queensland is an established leader in hypersonics (UQ, USQ, DSTG, Hypersonix) and quantum (UQ, GU) research and development and has a thriving artificial intelligence community (Queensland AI Hub, CSIRO, Athena AI, EMI).
5. The creation of Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA).
The Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA) will replace the Defence Innovation Hub and Next Generation Technology Fund from 1 July 2023.
The establishment of ASCA will bring new collaboration opportunities for industry, universities, and Defence with $3.4B has been committed over ten years toward six priority areas.
In addition to hypersonics and quantum, other key focuses will be directed energy, trusted autonomy, information warfare and long-range fires.
The Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre (TAS-DCRC) is based in Brisbane, as is the Centre for Robotics at QUT and the Robotics Design Lab at UQ.
6. Increased undersea warfare capabilities, specifically uncrewed ISR
Following on from points 4 and 5, undersea warfare remains a key component of the ADF’s operational success.
Looking at our local capability here in Queensland, AIMS Reefworks in Townsville, hosted the RAN’s Autonomous Warrior Exercise last year and is the only range in Australia that has been granted regulatory sandbox approval for uncrewed vessels from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
QUT is also collaborating with DSTG in the area of uncrewed underwater autonomous systems to develop resilient autonomous technologies, and high-definition underwater synthetic environments to simulate and improve task planning activities.
7. Building and sustaining trained Defence cyber and Defence space workforces.
Again, the Defence Science and Technology ecosystem is strong in Queensland with UQ, USQ, Gilmour Space Technologies, Black Sky Aerospace. Rocket Technologies International all prominent in the field of space research and development.
USQ leads the national Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications, and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) program.
Gilmour is planning the maiden flight of its first commercial orbital launch vehicle for late 2023 from Bowen Orbital Spaceport in Abbot Point, Bowen, South of Townsville.
IN THE MEDIA:
Read The Australian article “Queensland is evolving into an AUKUS force” published May 25, 2023.
How to get involved with Defence
The strength of Queensland’s current science and technology Defence ecosystem is undeniable, however there are always new partnership opportunities beckoning.
In talking with QDSA’s university partners – and what The Alliance has seen firsthand in recent years – there is appetite from academia to partner with industry and vice versa. But the proposition is even more attractive when the innovation or technology serves a dual-purpose, that is, it solves a Defence challenge but also benefits broader society.
Quite often the capability will originate from a different industry or sector but also has critical Defence applications. Many QDSA members are also surprised to learn that the technology or manufacturing they are developing is a good fit for Defence, even if it may not be an obvious connection.
Alliances like QDSA play a pivotal role opening doors and establishing connections which are the foundation of future collaborations.
To stay across the latest Defence opportunities, follow QDSA on LinkedIn or Twitter, and join our mailing list here. The QDSA website includes latest funding opportunities and upcoming events where you can meet other key stakeholders in Queensland’s Defence ecosystem.
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.