Global power balance and strategic tensions. Major defence acquisitions. Workforce planning and access to skilled talent. These issues and more all pose challenges for Australia’s defence industry. Strengthening the sector through collaboration and modernisation is essential to overcoming these risks, and will enable a transition to a robust, technology-led economy.

At UniSA, we address defence capability challenges by bringing together industry and researchers from multidisciplinary areas, including materials engineering, autonomous systems, telecommunications, information technology, organisational development, data management and analytics, advanced manufacturing, industrial design, augmented and virtual reality, biomechanics, human performance and psychology.

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What we do

Human factors and human machine interface programs


Technology-driven innovation, including augmented and virtual reality


Interrogation and mining of data for patterning and predictive models


Wireless communications and signal processing technology


Development of tailored surface coatings and microfabrication


Application of sensors and autonomous systems

We work closely with partners to secure support from the New Generation Technologies Fund and Defence Innovation Hub for collaborative research projects that enhance defence capability and grow the sector.

Inspiring young talent through project-based PhD opportunities is another way that we work with industry to support thought leadership and address the complex problems of our partners. Our researchers and students work with industry on a variety of projects, including:

  • Mental and physical performance programs, such as improvements to submarine crew living conditions and operational efficiency through a new design methodology for sleeping berths and cabins
  • Exploring nano-engineered colour changing camouflage coatings that can be applied to defence platforms
  • Developing behaviour modelling systems for testing combat strategies
  • Effective system integration and interoperability through AI and complex systems 
  • Investigating the use of virtual reality in enhancing the performance of Australia’s military personnel
  • Delivering novel and low-complexity optimal waveform diversity techniques for small target detection to overcome sea clutter
  • Exploring the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), biological vision systems, insect behaviour and aerospace technology to support industry growth
  • Development of customised professional cadetships.

With expert researchers and state-of-the-art facilities, we have the capabilities to work with partners on a range of sector-related challenges and opportunities.

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Our partners

We support defence industry capability and innovation through collaborative relationships with government organisations and businesses across the sector, including the Australian Department of Defence, Defence Science & Technology Group, prime system integrators and the wider defence industry to expand our sovereign capability and support diversification and growth.

Hear from our partners and staff

UniSA is a globally connected university, collaborating with more than 2,500 companies worldwide. Hear from our partners and staff about their collaborations and engagement.

“Over many years, we have successfully partnered with UniSA on developing the nation’s sovereign capabilities in defence and space, through various initiatives ranging from the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program to numerous Defence Innovation Partnership projects. These collaborations have brought UniSA’s expertise to the fore, particularly in the areas of autonomous systems, human factor research and advanced materials, contributing to the development of industry-leading products, systems and services that will deliver enhanced capability for defence now and into the future.”

Richard Price

Chief Executive
Defence SA

Richard Price

Chief Executive
Defence SA

“Saab Australia has enjoyed a productive relationship with UniSA’s IVE for several years through the development and support of student projects that involve AR/VR technology.  

In 2020, this relationship grew to include participation in research that has won funding to explore advanced concepts in visualising machine learning outcomes.” 

Dennis Medlow

R&D & University Engagement Manager
Saab Australia

Dennis Medlow

R&D & University Engagement Manager
Saab Australia

UniSA’s strategic partnership with UCL Engineering will continue to grow as we contribute to the reinvigoration of sovereign manufacturing in Australia. Our commitment to further strengthening our engagement with UCL is demonstrated by our Master of Science on Global Management of Natural Resources, where students from the UK can study in a multidisciplinary programme that builds on the teaching and research strengths between the two universities.

Professor Peter Murphy

Director
Future Industries Institute

Professor Peter Murphy

Director
Future Industries Institute

“Babcock is excited to collaborate with the University of South Australia on technology development for the Australian Army’s LAND125 Phase 4 Integrated Soldier System. Through this partnership, Babcock can access decades of research and expertise through UniSA, which will contribute to the spiral development of technologies and their use by the future Australian soldier and ultimately help generate the best outcome for Defence. It was an easy choice to engage with UniSA; they are collaborative, committed and local.”

Craig Schwartz

Head of Customer Solutions (Defence & Security)
Babcock Australasia

Craig Schwartz

Head of Customer Solutions (Defence & Security)
Babcock Australasia

UniSA's Enterprise Hub

The Enterprise Hub creates and sustains partnerships with organisations of all sizes, leveraging UniSA’s industry expertise and experience to solve problems, innovate and add value. Discover a range of services that can help you achieve your business goals.

Why partner with UniSA?

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No.1 IN AUSTRALIA FOR RESEARCH IMPACT AND ENGAGEMENT

2018 ARC Engagement and Impact Assessment (EI), Combined Impact – Approach to Impact and Engagement on Assessed
Fields.

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100% OF OUR ASSESSED RESEARCH RATED AT OR ABOVE WORLD-CLASS

2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), 4-digit Fields of Research.

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MEMBER OF DEFENCE INDUSTRY SECURITY PROGRAM

Membership allows UniSA to undertake sensitive research with Defence and Defence industry.

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#1 YOUNG UNIVERSITY IN AUSTRALIA FOR INDUSTRY COLLABORATIONS

2022 THE Young University Rankings – Industry Income Indicator.

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FOUNDATION MEMBER OF THE DEFENCE INNOVATION PARTNERSHIP

Industry-wide collaboration for defence-relevant research and development in South Australia

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ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S LEADING UNIVERSITIES FOR ENGINEERING RESEARCH

UniSA’s Engineering research rated well above world-class – 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

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ABOVE WORLD-CLASS RESEARCH IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND SOFTWARE ENGINEERING

Results in Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing - 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA).

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#1 YOUNG UNIVERSITY IN AUSTRALIA FOR INDUSTRY INCOME

2022 THE World University Rankings

Partner case studies

Turning complex data into stories people can see

The world has seen a rapid increase in the amount of data available on everything from our health to our education to our national security. While this huge bank of information holds enormous potential benefits, finding a way to present it in a digestible, usable format is a key challenge shared across a range of sectors. UniSA is working with BAE Systems and IMCRC to develop simple visual methods for representing complex data to map the operational and service histories of warships.

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“Sometimes industry can be constrained in its thinking as a result of process and procedures which we are required to adhere to, especially in the defence sector. Collaborating with university researchers, like those at UniSA, enables industry teams to again think freely, as such constraints are not embedded in academic researchers.”

Wendy Bourke, Senior Project Manager, Innovation, Research and Technology, Hunter Class Frigate Program, BAE Systems

Explore our research

As Australia’s University of Enterprise, our research centres work closely with industry on projects that deliver real benefits to the defence sector.

Experts in defence

Meet our researchers and learn about how they are working towards solving industry and partner challenges.

I examine the impact of fatigue, sleep deprivation, irregular work schedules and sustained operations on psychological and physiological functioning. Providing “Science for the Workplace” solutions, I have specific expertise in enhancing neurobehavioural and cognitive performance in operational settings and when using technology. My human centred approach is used by industries that are keen to improve their human capital. I bring this unique lens to defence, where I have established successful long-standing partnerships with Primes such as Lockheed Martin Australia, Naval Group, and Thales UK and government DSTG and Navy.

Professor Siobhan Banks
Director, Behaviour-Brain-Body Research Centre

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Professor Siobhan Banks
Director, Behaviour-Brain-Body Research Centre

My principal research is tailoring chip lasers with precise characteristics which can then be applied to the development of high-power laser systems. This has contributed to local capability in advanced optical manufacturing as well as short to mid-infrared fibre based lasers and resulted in systems developed for infrared counter-measures, remote sensing, precision measurements, and spectroscopy. In collaboration with EOS and the Defence Science and Technology Group we are investigating ways to improve the costs, time, and improve the modularity of manufacturing high-powered lasers, commonly used in the defence sector for high precision manufacturing as well as remote sensing.

Professor David G. Lancaster
EOS Chair in Laser Physics, and Director of the Laser Physics and Photonics Devices Laboratory

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Professor David G. Lancaster
EOS Chair in Laser Physics, and Director of the Laser Physics and Photonics Devices Laboratory

My research has had a strong focus on augmented reality, virtual reality, wearable computers, and user interfaces. This focus has meant I have had the opportunity to work on a range of exciting projects with industry, including with CADwalk Global, BAE Systems Australia, CSIRO, and DST. With BAE Systems Australia, we are investigating, developing and producing smart manufacturing facilitating technologies to bring Industry 4.0 technologies to modern ship building. Projects with DST are investigating the future methods of providing interactive information to commanders in the command centre.

Professor Bruce Thomas
Director, Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments

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Professor Bruce Thomas
Director, Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments

Find a research expert

Defence training and development

UniSA offers a range of bachelor, master, PhD and Executive Education programs in engineering, IT, defence systems and project management that align to the sector’s needs in developing and transforming its future workforce.

Defence news from UniSA

Explore our industry sectors

Discover our research capabilities across similar industry sectors.

Key Contacts

Matt Opie
Director: Defence & Space, Enterprise Partnerships Unit
H4-13, City West Campus
Sebastien Hebert
Senior Manager: Business Development, Enterprise Partnerships Unit
GP2-01A, Mawson Lakes Campus

Contact the Enterprise Hub

Get in touch with us to find out how we can support your business needs.

Make an enquiry online or call us to discuss your idea