South Australian companies lead defence industry innovation boost

By Jim Plouffe

Defence industry SMEs from South Australia have won more than $8 million in contracts to provide the Australian Defence Force with a capability edge.

Of the 15 contracts valued at more than $28 million awarded to Australian small businesses developing cutting-edge defence technologies, four are based in South Australia.

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said today’s tranche of investments from the Defence Innovation Hub included initial concept exploration and technology demonstration, through to prototyping and integrated capability demonstration and evaluation.

The South Australian companies are Inovor Technologies, Solinnov and Consunet, while QinetiQ, an international company with offices in Adelaide, was awarded $280,000 to develop an alternative electrical power micro-grid solution for deployed forces.

Inovor Technologies was awarded a $5.7 million contract to deliver a prototype nanosatellite to enhance space situational awareness, which is aimed at growing Australia’s space capability and could contribute to the global space surveillance network.

Inovor designs and integrates small satellites, including its InoSat nanosatellite, a turnkey surveillance pod to protect satellites from space junk. The InoSat is a cheaper alternative to directing space traffic and can also be used to study climate change, natural disasters and general agriculture on Earth.

In April this year Inovor won a $272,000 Defence Innovation Hub grant to prove the company’s algorithm can stabilise control systems to keep satellites fixed on specific positions.

“The stabilising technology enables very fine pointing with as little jitter as possible, focusing on stars for long periods of time,” Inovor CEO Dr Matthew Tetlow said at the time.

Electronics engineering company Solinnov was awarded $2.3 million to develop a software defined radio system with applications across electronic warfare, communications and sensing domains.

The Australian Defence Force is interested in the technology because of its potential to replace multiple pieces of equipment with one lightweight, portable solution.

Solinnov, established in 2010, is based in the in Mawson Lakes Technology Park, north of Adelaide, with many other defence industry companies.

IT company Consunet, based in the Adelaide suburb of Thebarton, was given $180,000 to develop a software capability to enable electromagnetic battle management that integrates existing technologies.

“Every time the Defence Innovation Hub invests in a local company, it supports local jobs and gives Australian companies the opportunity to develop world-class capabilities,” Minister Price said.

Picture: Dr Matthew Tetlow of Inovor Technologies, based at Lot 14 in Adelaide, South Australia.

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