CSIRO is providing free research and development (R&D) support for defence products. 

CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Defence Victoria program, supported by the Defence Science Institute, is a free 10-week virtual program that will give Victorian businesses the skills and knowledge to pursue a specific R&D opportunity.

Victorian small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with new innovation ideas contributing to sovereign defence and security are invited to apply.

CSIRO’s George Feast says SMEs can play a major role in driving innovation in the defence sector, through creating new advanced materials, drones, AI technologies and more.

“Even though we know R&D underpins innovation, it can be an expensive undertaking for businesses, as well as being risky and time consuming for those without the right guidance and support,” Dr Feast said.

“Through this course, we make the process less daunting for companies to navigate, so they feel empowered to pursue R&D with a research institution and ultimately have a big impact on the defence sector and company growth.

“Businesses will receive help to refine a specific idea and learn about how to partner with a research organisation, as well as build connections and opportunities with other businesses in the program.

“They will also be exposed to industry knowledge, hear from innovation and defence experts, and work with a R&D mentor," he said.

Previous participants of the Innovate to Grow Defence program have included SMEs working on innovations including smart soldier suits, advanced materials, and in one case, a high-tech communications system that can translate foreign conversation in real time.

Upon completion of the program, participants may be able to access facilitation support, through CSIRO, to connect to research expertise nationally, along with dollar-matched R&D funding.

“We’ve had alumni of the program go on to CSIRO Kick-Start projects, apply for state-based funding programs, and create connections with fellow participants to collaborate on a new project," Mr Butler said.

“Victorian SME’s have been consistent contributors of new ideas to the local and international defence sectors, often developing dual use technology.

“However, many of these great ideas fail to proceed to commercial success because of innovation realisation challenges," he said.

The program is open to all Victorian companies, regardless of sector, who have an idea to pursue a new type of innovation that could be relevant for the defence industry.

More details are accessible here.