There is no doubt the world has entered a more complex and potentially dangerous era. And according to Sarah Pavillard, that means commercial researchers and tech innovators will increasingly be asked in the coming years what they can do to support Australia’s national security agenda.
There are companies developing tech for commercial environments that may never have given the Defence sector a second thought, she said. But that is changing.
There are so many fact-developing dual-use, general technologies that can be applied to Defence and commercial applications, that the Australian defence establishment is increasingly open to working with niche commercial tech researchers and developers.
In this episode of the Commercial Disco, Ms Pavillard talks about the unique needs of Defence customers, and how Australian companies can work to engage on projects that leverage their dual-use technology prowess.
Ms Pavillard joined the Navy straight out of school, studied electrical engineering through the Australian Defence Force Academy and then trained as a weapons engineer.
After a lengthy career as a Navy officer – 12 years in full-time service and then years as a reservist – Ms Pavillard founded Adroita, a Defence consulting company and dual-use technology commercialisation firm.
Adroita, which has an employee roster heavy on ex-armed services personnel, has two business legs. The first is as a consultant to Defence, delivering professional services into the department ranging from engineering services, project management, program management, and commercial strategic business advice.
But is also works with businesses committed to building local capability. Very often (but not always) these are Australian companies, with Adroita helping mobilise these firms into the Defence sector.
“We do that by helping them to understand how their existing commercial capability plugs into Defence, and who their customer [within Defence] is probably going to be,” Ms Pavillard said.
“And then we build their strategies. For those who needs some support, we help them execute that growth strategy.”
On commercial consulting, Adroita’s “superpower” is in the experience of its many ex-Defence personnel. Defence can be its own world, she says, and it takes some navigating.
“That perspective of really deeply understanding the customer [within Defence] and how the customer makes decisions is knowledge that our commercial and advisory clients typically lack,” Ms Pavillard said.
“They might have deep knowledge of their technology or their R&D, but they don’t know how to engage with Defence, and they don’t know how their product fits into the sector, or how their business is going to need to change in order to accommodate the unique aspects of … Defence.”
“Those unique aspects include things like security, commercial compliance, systems engineering obligations, there are just a range of things that they would not necessarily have been exposed to in their commercial business.
“And we have to help them achieve that whilst not adversely impacting the commercial business,” she said.
The opportunities are growing for commercial tech firms to make a contribution to national security-related projects.
“There’s no doubt that geopolitically we are entering into a really complex era, and I think that commercial businesses in the next 12 months or 24 months, will be asked the question, ‘what can you do to support Australia’s national security agenda?’,” she said.
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