Sydney defence consultancy Adroita will use state government tax breaks to develop a “defence-digital engineering” capability and double its staff as New South Wales seeks to grow its defence and technology industries.
ADROITA is a female led, veteran-owned defence consultancy known for connecting clients with the tough to crack Australian defence industry sector, particularly the Navy, having represented both defence forces and suppliers.
It has received its first state government financial support from the $250 million NSW Jobs Plus program. The package – with an undisclosed dollar value – will be used to add staff and infrastructure to develop a “digital engineering” capability.
“Digital engineering is to the profession of engineering what industry 4.0 is to the manufacturing sector,” ADROITA chief executive Ms Sarah Pavilard told InnovationAus.com.
Rather than an engineering competency like electrical or naval architecture, digital engineering is a suite of skills, competencies and capabilities that enable the engineering work to be digitise, she said.
It aims to integrate things like big data, analytics artificial intelligence and machine learning into the engineering. Examples for the defence sector include digital twins of assets.
“We’re hearing about it as well in the naval construction work that is currently scheduled to occur within Australia,” Ms Pavilard said.
“Defence is building digital shipyards, for example.
“I would say that it’s emerging but I would expect that in the next three to seven years, if you don’t have high quality digital engineering capabilities in your business, you’d be extremely uncompetitive in our sector.”
The move to build the capability comes ahead of increased spending by Australian defence forces to match the Defence Strategic Review recommendations to be revealed in April. Further direct federal investments in defence and advanced technologies will come under the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund.
The state government is also looking to get more out of local defence research and development and in the case of ADROITA is backing a services business known for connecting parts of the local defence ecosystem.
Defence was identified in the state’s 2040 Economic Blueprint as an industry of the future because of the strong existing industry, serving a domestic need, and for cutting across emerging technologies.
The defence sector also incorporates each of the state’s four key technologies, identified last year to signal further investment and activity by the New South Wales government over the next 20 years.
Announced on Thursday, the support package comes from the New South Wales government’s Jobs Plus program. Dozens of state-based companies have received Jobs Plus support, which can include payroll tax breaks and rebates for infrastructure and training.
In keeping with previous packages provided under the program, the dollar value of ADRIOTA’s package has not been disclosed by the government and could be subject to change depending on how many jobs are created.
ADROITA will access both payroll tax incentives and infrastructure rebates as it considers an expanded Sydney facility and adds more technology.
According to the company, which has staff around Australia, the expansion will create more than 30 skilled jobs over two years, more than double its current 25 full time equivalent staff.
The state support for the defence services sector is particularly important because federal investment has typically focused elsewhere, Ms Pavilard said.
“Professional services, in terms of how much revenue is delivered into [the] Australian Defence Industry, about 40 per cent of that sits in companies doing things like engineering, specialist engineering, project management, etc. So it’s a really critical element of the defence ecosystem.”
The $250 Jobs Plus program launched in late 2020 with a goal of creating 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2024. The first mandated reports on actual job creation, covering the first 18 months of the program, revealed no “actual” jobs have been created.
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