Once the exclusive province of science fiction, drones and robotics are now a fact of life. For some, they are big business. A packed room of over 70 industry professionals eagerly listened to three prominent speakers from industry who are at the cutting edge of innovation and technology in this exciting sector.
The event was held on 30 August 2018 at CORE Innovation Hub, located on St George’s Terrace in the Perth CBD. Dedicated to the latest innovation, and promoting collaboration in the resources and energy sector, CORE is building a network of supportive environments that bring together start-ups, suppliers and operators to collaborate, identify new opportunities, share challenges and deliver solutions into the industry. With this in mind, CORE and WA DEFENCE REVIEW have teamed up to link the resources sector with the defence sector.
Tamryn Barker, the co-founder and CEO of CORE, welcomed attendees, describing the event as the first step in opening up new opportunities for members and industry partners to link in to the defence supply chain. Acknowledging CORE’s association with WA DEFENCE REVIEW, which has, since July this year, formalised collaboration with CORE as an Affiliate Partner for the defence sector, the Review’s Founder and Managing Editor, Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe set the agenda for the night’s proceedings. Serge then handed over to the evening’s MC, Susan Kreemer Pickford, General Manager for WA at Engineers Australia.
Joshua Portlock, Chief Technology Officer at Sci Aero, spoke first. Sci Aero is a leader in the field of aerial data solutions. They provide high resolution and high precision aerial data for applications such as surveying, urban mapping and planning, environmental monitoring, agriculture and defence. Joshua joined the company to commercialise his undergraduate and PhD work on drones. He accompanied his talk with a fascinating slideshow on the different drone types and their applications.
Joshua also spoke briefly about the Next Generation Technologies Fund and the support they have received from the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC). He urged anyone who was looking at the defence industry to take advantage of the CDIC’s defence-ready program. He stressed the importance of patience, as the process does not move quickly.
The evening’s second speaker, Daniel Milford who is the Managing Director of Chironix, and CORE Start Award winner (CORE program to recognise outstanding emerging capability in the sector) and startup member, has an extensive background in the military and the public service, dealing with defence and innovation in many capacities. He formed his company while working as a Google partner with Alphabet and Google X. Yet Chironix is still a start-up, having been in operation for only six to eight months. The Company is at the forefront of innovation and technology, developing machine learning and data engineering. They are an augmented-reality enterprises prototype partner for new Google technology. They develop applications for Google glass, providing the wearer with essential technical information in a variety of industries including the medical field.
The third speaker, Mike von Bertouch, spoke about three companies he is involved with, each having different approaches to drones and robotics. The multi-disciplinary approach was a common thread running through his speech, as was the number of varied and talented people he works with. His companies Structured Design, InnovAero and 5D Systems are all about solving the problems that people have, and he believes that the secret to good engineering is knowing what questions to ask to solve those problems.
A short question time followed, during which the speakers gave advice on breaking in to the defence supply chain, and dealing with challenges in the process. Know your strengths, collaborate, and get on a plane to deal with the tyranny of distance experienced in WA, were some of the nuggets of wisdom the panel delivered.
The event was well attended, with a roomful of listeners eager to absorb the information presented. Special guests included the Hon Bill Marmion MLA, Shadow Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Innovation and Disruptive Technologies; Defence Issues; Science and Michael Roberts, acting Consul General from US Consulate Perth, who also attended.
Major sponsor of the event was Regional Development Australia, Perth, whose CEO, Colleen Yates, spoke briefly about their latest initiatives including the recent launch of the Lithium Valley report, which aims to establish the case for energy metals and battery manufacturing in Western Australia, and last year’s launch of “Security and Defence in Western Australia: An Economic Perspective”.
Other supporters of the event included Austmine, Accelerating Australia, Innovate Australia, and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation (CERI). WA DEFENCE REVIEW, CORE and Engineers Australia thank them for their support and look forward to an exciting future of collaboration in this area.
“Engineers Australia were pleased to support WA DEFENCE REVIEW and CORE Innovation Hub to host this event looking at WA-led innovation in the defence sector. It was inspiring to hear the stories of the three engineers as they established the need for, and then developed, innovative solutions that have the potential to be expanded into other sectors. We are keen to share with our members and stakeholders the learnings from experiences such as these to build the confidence and capability of our local engineering talent as well as the opportunity for cross-sector and discipline networking”.
Susan Kreemer Pickford, General Manager WA, Engineers Australia