UNSW accelerator program launched for defence start-ups
Photo: Defence Connect
Six local start-ups in the defence industry will be developed under a new Defence 10x accelerator program launched by the University of New South Wales Founders Program.
Entrepreneurial experience, $350,000 each in seed investment, research and development capabilities, and access to expert networks will be supplied to Australia’s next generation of defence innovations.
Defence 10x was officially announced by UNSW Founders on 12 April as part of the $240 million Defence Trailblazer initiative. The initiative is aimed at increasing collaboration between defence, academia, and industry to develop capabilities to improve national security and resilience.
UNSW director of entrepreneurship David Burt said Defence 10x is the only defence-focused accelerator program in Australia and Defence Trailblazer initiative could provide a net economic benefit of $1.5 billion in the next 10 years.
“Start-ups and a vibrant innovation ecosystem have a key role to play in boosting Australia’s national security and resilience,” he said.
“While large foreign defence firms are important for Australia to access scalable manufacturing and systems integration, locally-based innovation and industrial capability are critical to developing solutions that are specific to Australia’s needs.
“It is necessary to support the emergence of next-generation defence contractors like High Earth Orbit Robotics and Silentium Defence who can tackle this gap.
“There are fantastic start-up ideas and powerful innovations being developed all around the country, but tricky market dynamics have meant innovations often struggle to reach commercialisation.
“Defence-specific expertise, funding, and networks are needed to accelerate our ability to develop and translate great ideas into deployable products, to the benefit of our national security.
“That’s why we’ve developed Defence 10x. UNSW is uniquely positioned to support founders with extensive expertise and specialist equipment, and together with the networks of the Defence Trailblazer, we bring a unique support package for founders in this space.”
Areas of interest include weapons, equipment, quantum, artificial intelligence or systems that protect critical infrastructure such as energy and water.
Applications are now open, teams will be shortlisted for a due diligence phase and then six of these start-ups will be selected for the full-time accelerator with a boot camp starting in August this year.
Defence Trailblazer executive director Dr Sanjay Mazumdar said Defence 10x will be run in two phases with a pre-accelerator and accelerator program.
“There’s an urgent need for change within the defence innovation system and its programs like Defence 10x which are tackling this head-on.
“Accelerating the development of sovereign capabilities in areas such as quantum, AI, cyber, hypersonics, autonomous systems, and space technology will produce the cutting-edge technology our nation needs to be self-reliant.
“UNSW’s Founder 10x programs are a proven method for accelerating commercial development, and combining this with the deep networks of the Defence Trailblazer will enable us to uncover Australia’s next big defence solutions.”