USQ-led space manufacturing hub awarded $50 million Trailblazer grant

A University of Southern Queensland-led hub focussed on space manufacturing has been awarded $50 million through the federal government’s Trailblazer program.

The grant, announced on Monday, is the latest through the Trailblazer program, which aims to strengthen commercialisation among universities and focusses on the federal government’s six National Manufacturing Priority sectors.

The USQ-led initiative, named the Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Hub, will have two other nodes at partner universities University of South Australia and Australian National University, and has 18 planned commercialisation projects with industry partners.

According to USQ Vice Chancellor Geraldine Mackenzie, iLAuNCH would help “improve Australia’s skills in the space sector, providing new jobs and boosting the economy”.

The University of Southern Queensland operates a dedicated industry testing service specialising in materials characterisation, polymer analysis, mechanical testing and large-scale structural testing

Professor Peter Schubel, Executive Director of the university’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences, said, “Our industry partners have identified $3.65 billion in economic benefits associated with the 18 core iLaunch commercialisation projects, which will accelerate Australian IP to market, and the development of a Space Engineering Degree that will create a pipeline of skilled, job ready engineers into this exciting high-value, high-growth sector.

“The program will provide critical research, equipment and infrastructure in support of rocket manufacturing, rocket launch and in-space hardware such as satellites, communications and sensors.”

According to a statement from USQ, the upcoming Hub would support industry partners in establishing a space manufacturing precinct in regional Queensland for rocket manufacturing and associated supply chain development for civil and defence needs.

The Trailblazer is the fifth announced during the current election campaign, following an announcement on Friday of funding for the Deakin University-led Recycling and Renewable Energy Commercialisation Hub (REACH) on Friday.

The $243 million Trailblazer program was announced in November 2021 as a $243 million program, funding four university-based hubs $50 million each over a four-year period and aiming to commercialise university research. It was expanded by an extra $119 million through the latest federal budget.

Professor Peter Schubel

Each Trailblazer must focus on one of the six National Manufacturing Priorities, and each is evaluated on factors including the level of co-funding by industry partners, openness of IP sharing, and incentives for researchers to collaborate with industry.

A shortlist of eight bids was announced in January.

Main picture: USQ’s hypersonic wind tunnel facility investigates aerodynamics and heat transfer on aerospace vehicles (pictures supplied)

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