The Australian Department of Defence is inviting research proposals from industry and universities in order to improve the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) cyber capabilities.

Defence industry minister Christopher Pyne said that the country needs to be better equipped to immediately respond to the current wide-spreading and persistent cyber threats.

Pyne said: “Malicious cyber activity costs Australian business and families over $1bn every year, and malicious cyber activity from state and non-state actors is a threat to Australia’s national security.

“It is critical that Australia develops a sovereign capability to protect our nation.”

“The government encourages Australia’s scientists and researchers to contribute to the development of cyber capabilities, which is a priority for national security.”

Academia and industry will be invited to collaborate with the country’s Defence Science and Technology (DST) group and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Data61 digital research network.

This partnership will help deliver technology developments and demonstrator systems to the ADF within three to five years.

Pyne added: “It is critical that Australia develops a sovereign capability to protect our nation.”

Funding of up to $650,000 for the cyber research programme is being provided by the DST’s Next Generation Technologies Fund (Next Gen Tech Fund).

Initial research proposals will be financed for one year with the option of future funding for selected projects.

The cyber research programme is focused on leveraging cyberscience, technology and innovation capabilities across the country in order to develop advanced and significant technology solutions for the defence department.