Home' Defence Magazine : Defence Magazine Issue 1 2018 Contents 44 Defence Issue 1 2018
MAGINE a Black Box Flight Recorder
designed for a person. It’s on its way and it’s
called the Fight Recorder, a device worn by a
soldier in battle.
Supported by the Next Generation
Technologies Fund, the Fight Recorder project is a
collaboration between two small technology compa-
nies and Defence Science and Technology (DST). It’s
a perfect example of what the fund is all about.
The Chief of DST’s Science Strategy and Program
Division, Dr Janis Cocking, leads the fund which was
launched a year ago.
She lists the Fight Recorder as one of its first
“We were able to bring together a small compa-
ny in South Australia and a small company in New
Zealand that previously didn’t know each other to
create a system or a sub system, for Defence, that by
themselves they wouldn’t have been able to do,” Janis
“If it hadn’t been for this program we never would
have discovered that.”
Another program kicking goals is the Grand
Challenges program, a centerpiece of the Next
Generation Technology Fund with Dr Roger Neill at
“This is a 10-year venture and what the team has
managed to put together in just 12 months is stagger-
ing really,” Roger says.
“Six of our collaboration programs are up and
running, the first Grand Challenge, the Defence
Cooperative Research Centre, the Quantum
Technologies program, the Australian Multi-
disciplinary University Research Initiative with
American universities, the Cyber Data 61 partnership
and the Small Business Innovation Research for
Defence, or SBIRD program, are all under way.
“We’ve already committed more than $120 mil-
lion on emerging defence research through these
“When I look back at where we were this time last
year, it felt like we were preparing to climb an impos-
sibly tall mountain, but we have done it.”
Roger says one of DST’s first Grand Challenges
struck a chord with Australia’s defence industry and
“Its goal is indeed ambitious – to counter impro-
vised threats without casualties,” he says.
“More than 650 people, representing many of
Australia’s best and brightest scientists and engineers,
attended information sessions DST conducted around
the country over two weeks in May 2017.”
After an extensive and thorough evaluation and
assurance process, 14 partners were chosen to work
with DST on this first Grand Challenge.
These include universities, small businesses and
two defence primes. Defence is investing $19 million
in the successful proposals.
Janis Cocking says the model is achieving results.
“I think what’s really good about the fund is that
the government, through the funding, has enabled
Defence to provide a greater number of universities
and industry with the ability to do research that could
have a really big impact on Defence capability in the
future,” she says.
Under the Next Generation Technology Fund,
key programs are tailored initiatives which share the
common goal of building game-changing capabilities
through collaborative research programs.
The first Defence Cooperative Research Centre
was launched in May. Its focus is on Trusted
Defence is investing $50 million over seven
years in this Cooperative Research Centre.
Headquartered in Queensland, it will involve indus-
try and researchers from across Australia with BAE
Systems, RMIT University, DefendTex and DST as
DST also has the Emerging and Disruptive
Technology Assessment program, a series of sympo-
sia involving universities and industry representatives.
These symposia are designed to monitor and dis-
cuss future technology trends that impact Defence.
The fund supported two of these last year on infor-
mation, knowledge and digital disruption and on
advanced material technologies.
The most recent symposium was held in May and
focused on advances in human biotechnologies.
Janis says one of her long held visions is now
becoming a reality for DST.
“While we might have dreamed in the past
of being able to collaborate more widely, having
this fund has enabled us to do that and realise the
dreams,” she says.
“Before now we never would have been able to
stand up something like a Grand Challenge program
because it’s a large amount of money, it’s a really
challenging problem and really multidisciplinary in
“Through this fund we’ve got researchers from
across the whole of DST involved, we’ve got univer-
sities involved and we’ve got both large and small
Defence’s first Grand Challenge was so well
received, many suggestions have been made as to the
subject of a second Grand Challenge.
Janis says that will be determined in the second
half of this year.
“We’re looking at expanding programs,” she says.
“There will be other Grand Challenges and
because there’s been so much interest on the various
ideas that might make up a new challenge, we intend
to run a competition to determine what the topic for
the next challenge will be.
By Alison Caldwell
One year on, the Next Generation Technologies
Fund is punching well above its weight
Links Archive Issue 4 2017 Defence Magazine Issue 2, 2108 Navigation Previous Page Next Page