Funding for the $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund and $800 million Defence Innovation Hub will go under the microscope in a wide-ranging review of Defence’s innovation, science and technology led by former Rio Tinto Australia managing director David Peever.
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price said the review announced on Monday would help ensure Defence had access to “the most cutting-edge capability in the world”.
“We must ensure that we are taking full advantage of Australian innovations to maintain Defence’s capability edge while ensuring innovative businesses are given every chance of commercial success,” Minister Price said.
“We need a Defence organisation that can capitalise on the knowledge and skills of Australian industry and academia to develop mission-focused technology that can solve Defence’s unique capability challenges.
“Now, more than ever, we are looking to drive fit-for-purpose innovation where Australian industry and academia are partners in this critical mission.
“The innovation is being jointly developed with taxpayers’ funds and Australians need to know we are investing their money wisely.”
Governance, management (the administration) and funding of all Defence-funded innovation programs, with particular focus on the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the Defence Innovation Hub, is at the top of the list of review’s terms of reference.
To allay concerns of imminent change, the minister said the Next Generation Technology Fund and Defence Innovation Hub would continue to operate “as usual for the duration of the review”, but did not guarantee their funding into the future.
Mr Peever, who also led the Defence First Principles Review in 2015, will provide a final report to Ms Price by the end of the year, meaning the review will have fewer than four months to report back.
Defence organisational structure, governance and funding of the Defence innovation ecosystem is also being reviewed, as well as how the Defence innovation system could be adapted to create a greater link between academia and industry.
The review will also seek to provide recommendations on:
- How to more effectively commercialise Defence-funded research and innovation and stimulate Australian innovation for the development of mission-focused technology solutions that could give Defence a unique capability edge;
- Development of a simplified suite of contractual arrangements to support rapid acquisition and transition from concept-to-capability;
- Refinement, consolidation and streamlining of the research, innovation and technology development priorities and topics with the aim to strengthen participation of Service Capability Managers to direct “mission-set” specific innovation; and
- Transition between Defence and other department’s innovation and manufacturing programs to support the continued development and commercialisation of technology that does not meet a direct Defence requirement.
Minister Price said the review would seek to ensure the Defence organisation was more commercially driven and outcomes focused to give it access to world-leading technologies and capabilities.
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