New defence funding announced

May 30, 2017

Australian researchers will have unprecedented access to competitive funding in a new multidisciplinary program.

defence funding

Featured image above: New defence funding announced for multidisciplinary teams of researchers. Credit: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

The AUSMURI program allocates $25 million to Australian researchers to work across defence projects.

The defence program was launched on the 23 May by the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.

The program will leverage the existing US Multidisciplinary University Initiative (MURI) grant program, which is administered by the US Department of Defense, Minister Pyne said.

Speaking about the program at the Collaborate Innovate conference in Canberra today, Chief Defence Scientist Alex Zelinsky said the intellectual property (IP) of the research will be owned by universities taking part in the program.

The winning bids – which will compete against American colleges seeking funding – will be announced in March 2018.

The defence program will provide grants to support multi-disciplinary teams of Australian university researchers who collaborate with US academic colleagues on high priority projects for future Defence capabilities.

Nine priority areas for defence funding

Dr Zelinsky identified these nine areas today and also spoke about which priority areas will be the focus for Defence Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs), which will be based on the existing CRC programme, which has been running since the 1990s and has funded over 200 CRCs across multiple areas.

While CRCs are industry led research collaborations, DCRCs will operate on a ‘top down’ approach, said Zelinsky. Minister Pyne is expected to announce the first three Defence CRCs shortly.

“We believe they will be a vital element in delivering under the Next Generation Technology fund,” Zelinsky told Science Meets Business. The NGT will invest $730 million in “emerging and future technologies” to 2026.

The nine priority areas of the NGT are: space capabilities, integrated intelligence, enhanced human performance, advanced sensors, quantum technologies, multidisciplinary materials science, trusted autonomous systems, medical countermeasure products, and cyber.

“We are sponsoring R&D through the NGT fund and developing this through the Defence Innovation Hub. This requires interaction with the outside world – we’re no longer trying to do everything in house. We want to get the best minds to be applied to our problems,” said Zelinsky.

“We want the best people working on tough problems. That needs significant, deep collaboration. Defence is going to be driven by innovation.”

– Heather Catchpole

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