Defence awards last $3.5m in grants before program reform

Brandon How

Eight local companies will share in defence industry grants worth $3.47 million, the last to be awarded before Defence introduces a new grants regime in June.

Funded projects include technologies for use in hybrid rocket motors, radar and surveillance systems, communication systems, anti-drone technologies, and robotics and submarines.

The matched grants have been awarded through the Defence Global Competitiveness and Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grant programs, which have now closed.

Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy in January 2024. Image: Jay Cronan/Defence

The largest grants, worth $1 million each, have gone to South Australia based QPE Advanced Manufacturing and Western Australia based Hexion Australia.

QPE will acquire and commission equipment for use in the manufacturing and maintenance of submarines and aerospace technologies.

Meanwhile, Hexion will use its grant to establish a hexamine manufacturing facility for the production of explosives ordnance and munitions.

Gilmour Space Technologies has also secured $715,000 to set up a production facility for high-test peroxide as a propellant for use in hybrid rocket motors.

Victoria-based Sentient Vision Systems, which was acquired by US defence drone and autonomous systems producer Shield AI earlier this month, and New South Wales-based DroneShield also received grants.

Sentient Vision Systems will receive $108,000 to acquire enhanced data-processing capabilities to improve its surveillance systems, while DroneShield will receive $59,000 to acquire “two spectrum analysers for use in developing radio frequency (RF) detection and RF finding sensors used in anti-drone and electronic warfare systems”.

The remaining grants go to Queensland-based Elexon Electronics ($338,000), Tasmania-based Betaserv ($146,000), and NSW-based Reach Robotics ($104,000).

Announcing the grants on Tuesday, Defence Industry minister Pat Conroy said “small to medium-sized businesses play an important role in developing and sustaining the capabilities the Australian Defence Force needs to protect us and our national interests”.

A spokesperson also confirmed the Defence Global Competitiveness and Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grant announcement is the last grant annoucement before the announcement before Defence’s new Industry Grants Program commences in June.

The new program, announced at the end of February as a part of the Defence Industry Development Strategy, will replace Defence’s Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority, Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry, Defence Global Competitiveness and Capability Improvement grants programs.

When the new program opens in June, it will have four grant streams:

  • Growth of Industrial capability and capacity in Sovereign Defence Industry Priorities.
  • Export opportunities for Australian defence industry.
  • Upskilling and training of defence industry in priority trade, technical and professional skill sets.
  • Establishing and maintaining security accreditation, in line with the Defence Industry Security Program.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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