The Australian Government has announced the award of up to $3.6m in contracts to 12 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The contracts are part of Australia’s industry engagement initiative, known as ‘Industry Competitive Evaluation Research Agreement (ICERA)’.

This initiative was launched by Australia Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price in August.

Price said: “ICERA recognises the growing importance and capability of Australian small-to-medium businesses and nowhere is this clearer than in the cybersecurity domain.”

The ICERA awards, which are funded via defence’s Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF), will provide $36m over six years.

The total number of successful ICERA contracts is 22, with the ones announced being the first round of contracts awarded.

The 12 ICERA partners are Breakaway Consulting, InfoSect, Insight Via Artificial Intelligence, Jaywick Group, Mentum Systems, Spinlock Security, Critus, Quantitative, Biosensis, Fivecast, Safran Electronics & Defence Australasia and Cryoclock.

According to the Australian Department of Defense, these SMEs will receive up to $300,000 each.

The businesses will work on research projects such as cybersecurity, enhanced human performance, integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), quantum technologies and advanced sensors.

Price added: “I am particularly pleased to announce that two of these initial ICERA partnerships are with businesses new to defence.

“The ICERA programme aims to support small-to-medium businesses that are critical to enhancing our tactical and strategic edge as Australia’s strategic context continues to evolve.”