Trailblazer defence program formalised


The Defence Trailblazer for Concept to Sovereign Capability program has taken another step in being formalised with the conditions of grant being finalised and the announcement of the board members. 

It is estimated that the project, a partnership between the University of Adelaide and UNSW Sydney, will have a net economic benefit to the Australian economy of $1.5 billion over 10 years. 

“The Defence Trailblazer program is a once in a generation opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between defence, academia and industry whilst accelerating research and commercialisation,” said Dr Sanjay Mazumdar, Executive Director, Defence Trailblazer. 

“The program aims to create a new trust-based cross-sector culture founded on shared risk, shared problem solving, shared success, and a shared sense of strategic urgency. 

“Formalisation of the grant enables the Defence Trailblazer team to commence work on various projects within the program that will focus on R&D, the defence workforce, innovation, and culture.” 

Endorsed in April 2022 with a $50 million grant from the Federal Government’s Department of Education the program will assist the country’s economy which is recovering from the effects of pandemic. 

The Australian Department of Education’s First Assistant Secretary for Research, Dom English, said that Trailblazer Universities is an ambitious program that encourages collaboration across universities, industry and government, and will turn Australia’s world-class research into real-world innovations while building a stronger culture of engagement in our universities. 

“There is a significant opportunity for universities to work hand-in-glove with Australian businesses to develop the next generation of great Australian inventions. 

“The University of Adelaide-led program will drive these outcomes through its significant industry partners, and nearly $250 million in funding contributed through Government, university, and industry. 

“I look forward to seeing this project succeed along with the impact it will have for the defence industry,” said Mr English. 

The program is a partnership between the University of Adelaide, UNSW, more than 50 industry partners and is supported by the Department of Education. 

Members of the Board have been appointed: 

  • Chair: Ms Christine Zeitz – General Manager, Asia Pacific, Northrop Grumman Australia 
  • Major General (Retd) Kathryn Toohey AM CSC 
  • Professor Emily Hilder – Chair, Platforms, Defence Science and Technology Group 
  • Professor Anton Middelberg – Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Adelaide 
  • Professor Nickolas Fisk – Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise), UNSW  
  • Dr James Palmer – Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Silentium Defence 
  • Harry Hubbert – Chief Technology Officer and Director, Greenroom Robotics 

In addition to Dr Mazumdar’s appointment in October 2022, Heather Nicoll has been appointed as General Manager – Workforce, Innovation and Culture and Dr Margaret Law as General Manager, Technology Development and Commercialisation. 

The Australian Government is providing $369.3 million over four years from 2022-2023 through the Trailblazer Universities Program to build new research capabilities, drive commercialisation outcomes, and invest in new industry engagement opportunities. 

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