The Australian Department of Defence has launched its A$730m ($561m) Next Generation Technologies Fund to help develop new technologies for defence needs.
The Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) will lead the ten-year research and development programme to improve the capabilities of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said: "As our enemies devise new ways to attack, our Defence Force must have advanced ways to respond and overcome new threats.”
“This fund will draw on the collective scientific expertise of our nation across both industry and university sectors, to give the ADF a winning edge with advanced technologies."
The government will initially invest A$16.8m ($12.91m) in the programme by June.
The fund will support research in cybersecurity, space capabilities, quantum technologies, trusted autonomous systems, enhanced human performance, medical countermeasures, multi-disciplinary material sciences, integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
It will also assist with the development of advanced sensors, hypersonics and directed energy capabilities.
Pyne added: "The first programme as part of the fund will be Grand Challenges, where Defence puts forward a problem with no easy solutions and asks Australians to come up with an answer.
"These challenges will require joint, multi-disciplinary research across organisations to resolve.
"The first such challenge, which will soon be open to proposals, is to counter improvised threats, which are constantly evolving and confronting our troops.”
The Grand Challenges will bring small agile companies, including start-ups, larger companies and academic researchers to work alongside defence scientists on large-scale, mission-focused projects.
The Australian Government has committed to invest A$1.6bn ($1.23bn) to grow the nation's defence industry and innovation sector.
Image: Australian Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne at the Next Generation Technologies Fund launch. Photo: courtesy of Commonwealth of Australia.