2020 was an extraordinary year, and at DSI, proved to be one of both challenge and opportunity. Transitioning to remote operations in response to the Pandemic, we pivoted our focus towards capability maintenance and the industry part of our university-defence-industry triangle, while maintaining strong relationships with all stakeholders.
As we anticipate a return to ordinary operation in 2021, we look back at some key milestones this past eventful year.
- We started (and ended) the year with all nine of Victoria’s and Tasmania’s universities as essential partners in DSI’s activities.
- We attended the Singapore Airshow as part of the Team Defence Australia Trade Mission, where we connected with friends new and old.
- At DSI, we continued to bridge the gap between industry and university. A DSI impact survey revealed that the projects of 74% of respondents who had received a DSI facilitated Collaborative Research Grant had continued in an ongoing collaboration with Defence. 84% of RHD Grant recipients indicated that they would like to work in the Defence sector post studies.
- To support SMEs whose R&D activities were affected by the Pandemic, we set up a COVID-19 Stimulus Support Grant to fast-track innovative ideas on a defined commercialisation pathway. The technologies supported have uses in areas as diverse as materials inspection, refrigeration efficiency and air purification against bacteria and viruses.
- Advancing research in quantum technologies, we participated in the 2nd Victorian Quantum Technology Network round table, hosted by Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist.
- Supporting PhD internships within defence industries, we collaborated with APR.Intern on a number of research projects focused on defence-related areas including drone development, 5G technologies and unmanned systems.
- We took the lead on behalf of the Australian Defence Science University Network (ADSUN) entities in administering the Artificial Intelligence for Decision Making Initiative. Launched in June, AI for Decision Making is a joint activity of the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) and Defence Science and Technology Group (DST), focused on developing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology relevant to the national security community.
- On behalf of DST, we facilitated the call-out and communications for the third round of funding for the operations research network (OR-NET) to Victorian and Tasmanian universities.
- As part of our efforts to support the commercial development of researchers at University of Melbourne, we participated in Translating Research at Melbourne’s (TRaM) first 2020 cohort presentation.
- To learn more about sovereign capability among Victoria’s industries, we participated in the Victorian Defence Alliances industry briefings with Head of Land Systems, CASG, Major General Andrew Bottrell.
- We negotiated with DST to leverage for a new $36M NGTF initiative program through the Defence Industry Competitive Evaluation Research Agreement (iCERA) Initiative, facilitating a DSI-led scheme to support the linkage of successful local SMEs and universities.
- As part of our efforts to foster industry-university collaboration, we facilitated a meeting with a University of Melbourne PhD student and Catten Industries to explore the use of AI for production scheduling.
- To learn more about innovation and collaboration opportunities between Australia and the UK, we attended webinars organised by the CDIC on accelerating defence innovation.
- Together with DST, we coordinated a call for Victorian capability expressions of interest for the Operating in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (Threat) Environments STaRShot, and received more than 100 submissions from across industry and universities. In the first week of October, we hosted a virtual interactive forum with over 100 participants from defence, industry and academia pitching their capabilities to select DST and US Defence personnel.
- DSI was shortlisted as a Finalist at the Australian Defence Industry Awards in the ‘Training and Mentorship Program of the Year’ Category. We featured alongside prominent contenders including Flinders University, Deloitte and Thales.
- The Victorian State Government recognised DSI's key role in supporting the collaborative relationships and capabilities that are vital to the R&D driving Austalia's sovereign capabilities. Funding provided as part of the Defence Capture Plan in the 2020-21 Victorian State Budget will ensure DSI continues to work for our stakeholders.
- We awarded over $200,000 in Research and Higher Degree Grants to bolster the diverse research pursuits of 15 students. How birds deal with wind gusts, strengthening cybersecurity, improving our immune system and fire-safe composite materials are just some of the questions being pursued by our brightest young
- We supported nearly 50 projects with our COVID-19 SME Stimulus, Research Collaboration, Business Development, Quantum Support and Sponsored Grants awarded to university researchers, SMEs and individuals, providing funds for employment, equipment and access to expertise, services and facilities.
- To integrate PhD expertise into Victorian defence SMEs, DSI facilitated six internships with industry partners including Synchron, Cortical Labs and Cingulan Space among others. This was achieved in collaboration with APR.Intern.
We thank all our partners and stakeholders for their support this year and look forward to continued engagement in 2021. The DSI team wishes you a happy and safe holiday season.