Making it real: Victoria’s research and development edge delivers for Australia’s manufacturing future

Land400

22nd Feb 2018

(Source & copyright of The Mandarin)

LAND 400 promises to boost both Australia’s national security and economy by accelerating new research and technology developments and breakthroughs. To do so it needs the right location to provide the crucial edge to future capability and prosperity.

Science and technology are the key enablers supporting Victoria’s advanced manufacturing juggernaut and research and development occupies pride of place in the state’s industrial past and its future.

The Victorian Government’s ‘precinct of excellence’ at inner-city Melbourne Fishermans Bend will create a multiplier effect — an ecosystem that will enhance national security and provide a crucial capability edge.

The technology hub will become Australia’s leading design, research, engineering, education and advanced manufacturing precinct where students and researchers will work alongside global industry leaders sharing skills, knowledge and connections.

Catalyst for collaborative excellence

Associate Director at Victoria’s Defence Science Institute, Associate Professor Regina Crameri, said there was strong interest from the academic sector in a specialised engineering hub at Fishermans Bend, close to the centre of one of the world’s most liveable cities.

Associate Professor Crameri said it was crucial for researchers to work closely with industry to focus on the issues facing defence and other national security organisations.

With almost $200 billion to be spent on new submarines, frigates, offshore patrol vessels, stealth jet fighters, armoured vehicles and other military equipment during the next decade such links will be crucial to ensure world leading and cost-effective outcomes.

“We need to achieve a seamless process where strong research leads to product development,” Dr Crameri said.

“At Fishermans Bend, industry will be able to articulate their problems and scientists, academics and SMEs will then be able to all work together to find a solution.”

National interest; national opportunity

The four to five-billion-dollar LAND 400 phase 2 project — to provide the army with 225 hi-tech combat reconnaissance vehicles — is a tangible example of how technologies developed in the state can be applied to Australia’s military capability.

The federal government’s defence research organisation, the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) has a significant presence at Fishermans Bend, and leading engineering and technology universities, including the University of Melbourne, as well as several major prime contractors all have plans to either enhance or establish centres of excellence at Fishermans Bend.

American aerospace company Lockheed Martin scoured the globe before it selected Melbourne to host its STELaRLab, the company’s first multidisciplinary research and development centre outside the US.

The Victorian Government is also working with international research powerhouses, such as Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre, Israel’s Tel Aviv University and the Commonwealth of Virginia in the USA.

Solid smarts make good economics

Melbourne’s status as one of the world’s top ‘Tech Cities’ was cemented when it was named number 14 in the 2017 Savills ranking of the world’s top 20 technological cities.

When it comes to tech savvy talent, Melbourne was ranked number five on earth just ahead of Austin, Texas.

The DST Group – Australia’s second largest publicly funded research agency – is responsible for applying science and technology to defence and national security tasks. It has a major research and development site and substantial research and experimental facilities at Fishermans Bend. Through the Australian Government’s Next Generation Technologies Fund, the DST Group is expanding its research and development programs with a major emphasis on collaboration with Australian universities and partnering with Australian industry.

The DST Group has an annual budget of $408 million and its 2,300 staff are responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard the nation and its interests.

The University of Melbourne’s engineering school is also set to relocate to the site, thus closing the loop on a world class R&D conduit between the academic and research worlds and defence manufacturers generating commercial outcomes.

For example, under its LAND 400 expansion plans BAE Systems would construct a state-of-the-art simulation, training and test centre on the site that could be linked directly with research organisations.

Associate Professor Crameri said having everyone in the one location would be a much more efficient way of getting products to market.

“It really is about outcomes and stimulating students to appreciate that there is a career path in science and technology.”

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Building future prosperity

Recent ABS data shows that Victorian firms account for over 40% of Australia’s total R&D spend in advanced manufacturing

Victoria’s defence industry advocate and former defence industry minister Greg Combet said locating the BAE centre virtually next door to the Defence Science and Technology group was a “really great opportunity”.

A major feature of BAE’s bid is plans to co-locate engineering capability from the universities as well as aerospace and other advanced manufacturing with companies such as US giant Boeing and military vehicle supplier Supacat within the precinct.

“It’s just a really good concentration that we are going to be able to put together in an engineering and defence focused precinct and that is an attraction for locating LAND 400 there,” Mr Combet said.

“Military equipment involves incredibly complex and highly sensitive technology. The precinct will offer the defence industry the cutting edge of defence technology, innovation and skills.”

To find out more about Victoria’s defence capabilities visit www.defence.vic.gov.au

(Main image top: Matt Harvey)