Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos has pledged to keep a keen eye on science and innovation, even as he is set to become Australia’s next Ambassador to the United States.
“I haven’t worked out my program, but obviously I’ll continue to keep an interest in innovation and science to improve the economy and society,” Senator Sinodinos told InnovationAus.com on Monday.
He clearly signaled this as a priority during his attendance at the official launch of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for CubeSats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles and their Applications (CUAVA) at the University of Sydney on Monday.
Senator Sinodinos said the launch of CUAVA formed part of the federal government’s broader goal to establish Australia’s space industry, which is expected to be worth $12 billion by 2030.
“What we’re doing with CUAVA is giving more shape and substance to what that industry can be for Australia by looking at how we use unmanned aerial vehicles, [and] cubesats to help to expand our industrial footprint,” he said.
“This is all about advanced manufacturing and creating a basis where all those great firms and industries in Australia that otherwise saw their future offshored, as saying we can do it from an Australian base, and that’s important.”
He said Australia’s space industry would eventually give the country a competitive advantage.
“This is one of the sectors where we think we can do a lot. We’re unique because of our geography. We’ve had a head start with some of the work we’ve done in the area of space technology and communications. We’ve had the partnership with NASA,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of frustrated people in the area who thought we were on the verge of creating a big new sector, and then it seemed to go into decline. But now it’s back.
“I’m happy to be the president of the creation. There was a gathering consensus that we needed to do something in this space. I was confident we would have the support of other stakeholders, including the Opposition.”
CUAVA was setup using $4.6 million of funding from the ARC as part of its Industrial Transformation Training Centre scheme, and an additional $1.2 million from the University of New South Wales and several partner organisations including Saber Astronautics Australia and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
The new centre will be responsible for training the future workforce on advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurship, and commercial space and UAV applications.
Specific areas of focus includes developing hyperspectral imaging for agriculture, coastal and environmental monitoring and mineral exploration; high-speed communications for satellite; and using GPS systems to monitor weather conditions.
Within the next year, CUAVA will launch its first satellite and new instruments into orbit.
ARC chief executive Sue Thomas said the training centre will also help address the industry’s ongoing skills shortage.
“The particular focus of this scheme is building opportunities for higher degree research students and post-doctoral training opportunities that’s specified to the need of industry to help build the future research workforce of Australia,” she said.
“In this centre, PhD students are guaranteed an entrepreneur experience and they’ll be involved in the design, build and testing of fully operational UAVs cubesats
“This is a vital scheme to help strengthen the capabilities of Australia’s space industry.”
Senator Sinodinos added one of the other benefits of CUAVA is that it will bring researchers and industry together – an area he believes that Australia “needs to do better.”
“I’m very enthusiastic about what the ARC does with the Industrial Transformation scheme. I think it’s important to have those linkages with the private sector and with other research bodies and universities. That collaboration is at the core of making sure we have that innovation mindset across the industry,” he said.
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