Program ignites innovative ideas

The current participants in a program that links innovators with Defence and has led to the creation of 13 businesses have showcased their projects in a virtual event.

CAPTION: Facilitator Cameron Turner shares his insights on transformational innovation at a D.Start Ignite guest speaker panel event held during the Land Forces exposition in Brisbane in early June. Story by Dr Jennifer Palmer.

D.Start Ignite connects innovators with potential end users of their products and services inside the Department of Defence and in Defence industry.

The program helps entrepreneurs understand the Defence Capability Innovation System and helps them validate their business propositions.

It is the only program offering participants the opportunity to pitch their ideas directly to stakeholders who can help them identify Defence applications or refocus their ideas into new areas.

Defence Science and Technology Group’s (DSTG) Chief Technology Officer – Innovation and Strategic Research Stuart Cannon said Defence aimed to increase opportunities for Australian entrepreneurs to translate new science and technology into Defence capability through D.Start Ignite.

“The program for start-ups, small- to medium-sized businesses, and academic teams is supported by the Next Generation Technologies Fund and delivered in partnership with the CSIRO [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation],” Dr Cannon said.

“D.Start Ignite is built on the ON Prime program created by the CSIRO.

“It taps into the Australian entrepreneurial environment to rapidly bring innovative technologies into Defence know-how and effectiveness.

“During the eight-week program, teams receive business coaching and mentoring through CSIRO’s network of specialists and are matched with a Defence mentor.”

Typically, Defence mentors are former Defence employees or members of Defence industry who can provide first-hand advice on working with Defence.

The 24 teams currently in the D.Start Ignite program are at varying points in the development of their technologies.

The projects range from a sub-sea acoustic harbour-monitoring network that is non-threatening to wildlife and the environment, to functional foods that could improve gut health and cognitive function for Defence personnel exposed to battlefield stress.

The current round of the program culminates with presentations by the teams at showcase events, hosted virtually by the CSIRO.

You can view a recording of the July 20 event or register for the July 27 event.

“Teams participating in previous rounds of the D.Start Ignite program have founded 13 new business ventures, creating 42 Australian jobs, and expanded their funding through agreements with Defence as well as Accelerating Commercialisation Grants from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Entrepreneurs’ Programme,” Dr Cannon said.

Queensland-based genomiQa Pty Ltd, which was founded by a team from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute that participated in a precursor to the D.Start Ignite program in 2019, received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant of almost $480,000 to develop its whole-genome analysis pipeline.

Quantum Brilliance Pty Ltd, founded by a team from the Australian National University shortly after participating in the 2019 program, received a grant of $828,000 to establish a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for its room-temperature quantum computers.

To find out more about the program, visit the D.Start website.

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