New Defence Research Institute raises Canberra’s innovation profile

Posted 28 Feb 2018

Story by CBR Canberra

It’s already considered the frontrunner in Australian politics and governance, but Canberra is fast becoming recognised for its leadership in another field: research and innovation.

In a pivotal move, UNSW has launched its Defence Research Institute (DRI) in Canberra. Not only will it consolidate the university’s position in the Defence market, the DRI will change the way Canberra is perceived on a global scale.

The DRI was seen as a natural development following an increased demand for Defence research from UNSW Canberra. The DRI has already undertaken high-calibre research already spanning space traffic management, the impact of turbulence on surveillance and the stresses of drone-flying on pilots.

Findings from such research are used to assist the Australian Defence Forces and the Defence Industries in their operations, and to generally enhance Australia’s national security.

The significance of the research coming out of Canberra has captivated a growing audience. Breakthroughs being made here are increasingly garnering international recognition, placing Canberra firmly on the map in a sector where global competitiveness is crucial.

According to UNSW Canberra Rector Professor Michael Frater, UNSW Canberra is “one of the world’s leading research institutions, a pioneer in Defence studies and a global leader in cyber security education”—a reputation which developments such as the DRI will help uphold. Together with the existing UNSW Canberra Space facility, the DRI has over 40 space engineers, scientists and research students, making it Australia’s leading space capability and space program.

Closer to home, the introduction of institutions such as the DRI has solidified Canberra’s position in something which the city holds dear: education. Already boasting a highly educated population, Canberra is set for another boost to its ‘knowledge capital’ profile through UNSW’s expansion.

Not only is the DRI a significant development in UNSW’s presence in Canberra, a proposal to develop a UNSW campus in Reid could see a research centre, teaching facilities and accommodation under the university’s name in the heart of Canberra, on Constitution Avenue.

The development of DRI and UNSW buildings in the city will make Canberra firmly known as the home of two Group of Eight universities—the Australian National University and UNSW—placing it in the same game as bigger city counterparts Sydney and Melbourne.

The addition of DRI and another UNSW campus to an already world-class list of institutions will likely attract even more domestic and international students to Canberra. As it stands, international education is Canberra’s biggest export, securing $579 million in the 2016 calendar year alone.

“When it comes to international education and high quality tertiary education, the ACT is punching above its weight,” says Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research Meegan Fitzharris.

This is not to mention the swathe of jobs which the new institutions will create—starting with a new DRI Director which UNSW is currently advertising for. Already, one in six Canberrans study or work in tertiary education.

Continuing its upward trajectory, Canberra is moving into the future stronger through research and innovation.



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