Defence Innovation Hub Conference

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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4 November 2019

Thank you, Keirin[1], for your introduction.

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal People, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

It’s fantastic to be here today.

This conference brings industry and defence together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our military.

It’s also a chance for us to work together on innovations that will maintain our strategic advantage in the decades to come.

And that’s important.

Creating connections is important.

It’s how we build capability in our military, and it’s how we foster a strong defence industry sector.

Because the truth is, in Australia, we have some incredibly creative people and businesses.

We’re known for our ingenuity and innovation.

Unlocking industry potential  

When we were elected in 2013, we knew Australia’s defence industry had far greater potential to deliver cutting-edge defence capability.

We also knew that small businesses would drive this.

To unlock the potential in the industry — to grow the industry — we had to make it easier for small businesses to succeed.

And we’ve delivered a long list of initiatives to make that happen.  

We’re supporting the development of new technology through the Defence Innovation Hub.

We’re connecting Australian businesses with export opportunities.

And we’re helping businesses enter and flourish in the industry through the Centre for Defence Industry and Capability.

Of course, this is all part of our Government’s $200 billion investment to build a more capable Defence Force.

As I look at all of you here today, it’s clear to me this investment is paying off.

Today, there are 3,500 small businesses operating in the defence industry.

That figure is even larger if you count the businesses not generally considered ‘traditional’ defence industry businesses.

My job is to identify that army of small businesses, and help connect them to the opportunities in our defence industry.

The Morrison Government is investing $640 million over a decade — and, so far, the Innovation Hub has awarded upwards of 100 contracts with a value of around $150 million.

… Eighty-five per cent of these contracts were awarded to small businesses.

And today I’m pleased to announce three more innovation contracts worth nearly nine million with Textron Systems, CyberOps and AVT Australia. 

These contracts build on the Hub’s investment in small businesses.

These investments are not just about helping the best and brightest in Australia’s industry drive the future of innovation.

They’re also driving growth in our defence industry –

To date more than 200 local Australian jobs have been created because of the Hub’s investments.

Working more closely with industry is allowing us to grow industry.

Precision Payload Delivery System

To stand still is to fall behind.

We need to always push technology forward.

Consider, for example, unmanned aerial systems, or drones.

Our Army has deployed drones for nearly 30 years and, far from being a case of set and forget, the story is one of constant improvement.

From the early days — when drones required an external operator — to today’s fully autonomous versions.

From drones with a wing span of nearly five metres, to ones that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Clearly, we’ve come a long way.

But we have to keep pushing the technology forward.

In that mission it will be you — our industry partners — who we are increasingly turning to.

Sypaq is one of those businesses.

Let me tell you a little bit about what they are developing.

Right now, our Army is equipped with the American designed Shadow drone used for aerial surveillance and reconnaissance.

To get the drones off the ground you need specialist equipment, and a runway.

You also can’t just lug them into the jungle or drag them through the desert.

But our soldiers needed something that could.

So, we turned to Australian industry, and Sypaq

Army explained the need and Sypaq came up with a solution

Their idea was pitched to the Defence Innovation Hub and Army;

And they were awarded a contract to develop the Precision Payload Delivery System – known as the PPDS.

A low-cost, disposable, unmanned aerial system.

These drones have a range of 50 kilometres, and can deliver medical and other supplies to troops on the ground.

They can also act as radio communication.

With a weight of just four kilograms, they can be carried by hand and assembled nearly anywhere.

And while this drone is essentially made of cardboard, you could shoot it full of holes and it still wouldn’t miss a beat.

They’re just one example of new capabilities that are coming through the Defence Innovation Hub pipeline.

And it’s just one example of a small business whose potential has been unlocked through the Morrison Government’s investments in Australian industry.

Spypaq had ideas — and had aspirations.

They knew they had the know-how to create their own technologies.

All they needed was the right opportunity.

By engaging with the Defence Innovation Hub, Spypaq gained the insight and opportunity to grow their business and to develop new technologies.

Technologies designed specifically to meet the needs of our Australian Defence Force.

Sypaq has not only leveraged the Defence Innovation Hub, but also the Centre for Defence Industry and Capability, the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Australian Defence Export’s Office.

Sypaq CEO Amanda Holt has described these various avenues as ‘magic’ for small businesses like theirs.

They now employ nearly 200 people and have offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth – with plans to expand even further.

And they work with a local supply chain, including key subcontractors in Hobart and regional Australia.

An important part of building capacity and capability in Australia’s defence industry comes from expanding the defence sector.

This is where the Defence Innovation Hub is making a real impact, by welcoming proposals from both traditional and non-traditional businesses.

Around 21 percent of contracts awarded through the Defence Innovation Hub are to new companies to the defence industry sector.

Companies like Geelong based Carbon Revolution.

They signed a contract worth two and a half million for their light-weight, carbon-fibre wheel technology.

They are developing a new automotive wheel design for the CH-47 Chinook military helicopter.

This is great for our military, and it’s great for their company.

And it’s just another example of how our investment in small business is sowing the seeds for a strong and vibrant defence industry sector.

On days like today, we should celebrate these achievements.


I want you — I want Australian businesses — to be part of the future.

I hope you enjoy today’s conference, and I hope you make new connections and find new inspiration to improve our military’s capability.

We’re relying on you to do just that.  

Thank you.



[1] LTCOL Keirin Joyce to introduce Minister.

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