5 October 2022

Australian tech companies powering global defence innovation

Dynamic and enterprising Australian technology businesses are proving powerful global allies of the defence and security industry.

Underpinned by world-leading research and generous investment support through initiatives like the Australian Government’s A$1 billion Defence Innovation Hub, Australian advances in technologies such as robotics, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning have helped reshape defence and #security both nationally and around the world.

Now, fast-growing sectors like additive manufacturing, virtual reality, cyber and quantum computing are accelerating that transformation and creating even more opportunities for Australian companies in these fields.

The benefits of these advances for defence are wideranging: increased safety; increased capacity to provide humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR); access to areas deemed dangerous for humans; delivering wide-area surveillance and monitoring for early identification of threats; and enhancing training simulation, to name just a few.

An uncrewed surface vessel on the ocean

At Land Forces 2022 – Australia’s major international defence forum held in October 2022 – those innovations were on full display and attracted interest from global participants like Lockheed MartinBAE SystemsHanwha Techwin and Rheinmetall, among others.

On day one of the event, some of Australia’s most talented defence-related trailblazers vied for one of three prestigious Land Forces 2022 Innovation Awards. Advanced manufacturing, robotics, aerospace, logistics and biotechnology were just some of the sectors represented by the 12 shortlisted contenders.

Victorian company The Pentarch Group took out two of the awards – the National Innovation Award and the SME Innovation Award – for its robotic system for handling, examining and disarming live high explosives without exposing humans to danger. The Young Innovator Award went to senior engineering consultant James Tsarouhas, from Anywise, for his design and integration of a sensor array to make military bridges safer and more reliable.

The judging panel, which included Head of Health at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and former Director of the The Defence Science Institute Professor Regina Crameri, also highly commended another three contenders for their impressive work. 

The focus on defence innovation continued the following day, when cutting-edge Australian companies and research centres presented their new products and R&D projects to an audience of potential customers, research partners and investors at the Land Forces Innovation PitchFest.

new report on Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence (RASAI) by Austrade and Trusted Autonomous Systems points to a culture of innovation and the early adoption of technologies like robotics by the Australian Defence Force (ADF). This is partly due to local expertise, notes the report, with Australia’s agriculture and mining industries developing world-leading autonomous systems to help run commercial operations in vast, remote areas.

“The ADF wants RASAI technologies to help replace, augment or revolutionise current capabilities,” says the report. “Australian companies are helping to create these future platforms [and] are looking for opportunities to partner with global defence companies.”

As a priority industry, defence is worth almost A$9 billion a year to the Australian economy. Its importance is highlighted by the Australian Government’s commitment to spend A$270 billion on the sector over the next 10 years, with RASAI technologies announced as one of the Department of Defence’s Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities. Attracting strategic partnerships and business investment is also high on the government’s agenda, as it looks to significantly grow and strengthen the sector.

Australia’s world-class research organisations, such as national science agency CSIRO, are playing a key role through collaborations with business, government and universities. Supporting this is the A$1.2 billion Next Generation Technologies Fund, which is focused on emerging and future technologies across the entire defence ecosystem.

Australia’s Department of Defence is also targeting new technologies through A$3 billion in innovation program funding, while its Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) is one of Australia’s largest employers of scientists and engineers and has a long history of delivering groundbreaking solutions to defence challenges.

Visit the Defence page to learn more about Australia’s fast-growing defence industry, the world-leading technologies transforming the sector and the opportunities for business and investment.