Senior leaders from Australia’s industry, defence and academic communities have highlighted the critical role of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in helping Australia meet its security and defence industry objectives, and called for a concerted focus on capability planning and R&D investment.
The Securing Australia’s SME Defence Capability Forum, co-convened by Lockheed Martin Australia and Australian Industry (Ai) Group, explored the key challenges and opportunities for the growth of the nation’s SME sector, not only in the provision of Australia’s defence materiel, but also in the transition of the wider economy.
In his keynote address, The Hon. Kim Beazley AC highlighted the potential for the defence sector and the role of SMEs in securing Australia’s place on the global stage.
“In rebalancing our economy in the context of the end of the mining boom, Australian industry has significant responsibilities. The defence sector will play a key role in this transition, and will provide substantial opportunities for our nation’s SMEs,” he said.
“In order to facilitate growth and to foster innovation in the defence industry, it is imperative that we place a concerted focus on our SME sector and the opportunities to expand its capabilities. Investing in SMEs, including those spearheading new research and development, will expedite the transformation of Australian industry and ensure that Australia meets its security and economic objectives,” Kim Beazley said.
Ai Group Councillor and Managing Director SAGE Group Holdings Ltd, Andrew Downs, commented: “The forum raised important questions about the future of Australia’s defence sector and placed a spotlight on the role of SMEs, particularly in taking advantage of the opportunities here in the South Australian market. Industry collaboration and openness will play a key role in ensuring that we have a sustainable supply chain and reach targets for the broader industry.”
The Securing Australia’s SME Defence Capability Forum featured keynotes from: The Hon. Kim Beazley AC, Board Member, Lockheed Martin Australia; Professor Anthony Finn, Director, Defence and Systems Institute at the University of South Australia; and Jim Whalley, Co-founder and CEO of Nova Group.