University students to tackle real-world defence and national security challenges

Department of Defence

Australian university students will have the opportunity to apply their fresh ideas and innovative approaches to national security challenges through a new Defence entrepreneurship program, D.Start Catalyst.

Defence has partnered with not-for-profit Common Mission Project to establish the program in several Australian universities.

The D.Start Catalyst program will teach students how to apply innovative processes to address Defence and national security challenges.

The program builds on the success of established United States and United Kingdom programs, as well as a pilot program “Hacking for National Security” conducted at the University of New South Wales in early 2021.

Chief Science Engagement and Impact Division, Dr David Kershaw, said D.Start Catalyst will encourage student-entrepreneurs to take on some of the toughest challenges facing Defence, while changing how Defence solves problems.

“D.Start Catalyst will allow us to access fresh talent within Australian universities and tap into the benefits of lean start-up methods, including world-class market research, resulting in faster delivery of Defence capabilities,” Dr Kershaw said.

“The program is also part of Defence’s effort to reach the STEM community and to attract the best and brightest into Defence and defence industry careers.

“D.Start Catalyst is a key element of the Defence Research Accelerator program, helping to create an understanding of the Defence problem space within the Australian educational and entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Dr Kershaw said.

The Defence Research Accelerator is an initiative of the Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF).

Over the next decade the NGTF will invest $1.2 billion to harness innovation in Australian universities and industry and create game-changing technological advances for Defence.

The partnership with the Common Mission Project will enable Defence to draw on expertise from the US and UK programs, deliver training for university staff and Defence personnel, and coordinate the delivery of university courses to students in a variety of degree programs.

D.Start Catalyst is a companion to the D.Start Ignite program, which helps university research teams and small-to-medium businesses engage with Defence and is delivered in partnership with CSIRO.

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