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DSI BEHIND THE SCENES: Professor Len Sciacca

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DSI BEHIND THE SCENES: Professor Len Sciacca



With deep networks across university and the defence sector, DSI’s Liaison Managers act as the perfect conduits to collaboration between industry and academia.

Enterprise Professor, Defence Science & Technology, and Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Melbourne, Len Sciacca talks about his roles in education, industry and defence and the importance of long-term collaboration for successful research outcomes.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an Enterprise Professor in Defence Technologies at The University of Melbourne leading the defence research portfolio. I am also a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and Fellow of Engineers Australia.

Throughout my career, I have gained extensive experience in government, industry and research sectors with roles in CSIRO, at the Universities of Melbourne and Newcastle, with Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG), within the Defence industry, and through my own start-up company developing satellite tracking technologies. While at DSTG, I led the Electronic Warfare and Radar Division before taking on the role of Chief Science Partnerships and Engagement.

2. What drew you to DSI?

Being a DSI Liaison Manager for the University of Melbourne allows me to engage with other universities trying to do the same thing I am doing – that is, facilitating engagement with industry and defence.

I have a passion for fostering collaboration, which aligns with DSI’s key objectives. This has been a prime motivating factor in my association with DSI, including the opportunity to help those starting out in the defence research sector.

3. Comment on the research capabilities highlighted by the university you represent.

The University of Melbourne has a broad portfolio of defence research with particular emphasis on autonomous systems, information and influence, intelligence, advanced RF systems, sonar, maritime platforms, materials, quantum sensors, human performance and biotech technology, cyber and artificial intelligence. There are specific relationships with several large, medium and small companies including several Next Generation Technology Fund projects, work with Defence Innovation Hub and other defence projects, supporting large army and aerospace projects.

4. What do you see as challenges that inhibit Defence research and development between industry and universities?

Many funding schemes in Australia come and go, unlike in the US, where there are longer term research funding schemes for academia and industry. In many cases, Australian industry is expected to provide 1:1 funding in order to gain financial support from government initiatives. Long term schemes that can develop over decades and fully fund the research and development across increasing technology readiness levels would greatly enhance industry-university engagement domestically.



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