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USQ launches new collaboration with industry

The University of Southern Queensland on Thursday launched a new research collaboration between academia and industry to encourage more “practical breakthroughs” in space.

The $180-million iLAuNCH trailblazer is a partnership between the University of Southern Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of South Australia and more than 20 industry partners.

Assistant Minister for Education Senator Anthony Chisholm said the initiative would harness Australia’s natural and competitive strengths.

“Industry plays a pivotal role in propelling university innovation to the forefront of Australia’s economic recovery and there is great opportunity for small and medium enterprises, as well as the large organisation, to collaborate with Australia’s outstanding researchers,” he said.


University of Southern Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said, “Here we have critical infrastructure in space research, including the long duration hypersonic tunnel, Mt Kent astronomical observatory, advanced automated composites manufacturing facilities and rocket solid fuel manufacturing lab.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of space research that has a critical role in creating new products, companies, technology, and jobs. To be a world leader in the space industry.

“With world-class research and teams from the University of Southern Queensland, the Australian National University, and the University of South Australia, the iLAuNCH Trailblazer is set to accelerate the development of a space launch manufacturing sector.”

iLAuNCH is among the most significant space research hubs in Australia. Formed last year through the federal government Trailblazer Universities Program, iLAuNCH features three universities and over 20 industry partners — with more expected. The $180-million program will invest in space industry research, commercialisation, and manufacturing over four years.

iLAuNCH executive director Darin Lovett said the Trailblazer Program takes domestic space collaboration to a new level.

“Australia is primed to launch into a trillion-dollar global space ecosystem,” Lovett said.


“To seize the opportunity, we are focused on commercialising our world-class space technology through collaboration and focused effort.”

The goal is to deliver billions in economic benefits by 2040 and create a lasting legacy for Australia’s space industry.

University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute Professor Colin Hall said the university was proud to be part of the iLAuNCH consortium.

“This unique initiative represents a real opportunity for Australia to expand and develop our space engineering ecosystem,” Professor Hall said.

Over the next three and a half years, the UniSA team will work with six industry partners across three key projects with a total value of around $20 million.

“Through collaboration and innovation, we will demonstrate how space-capable technologies can inspire the next generation of space engineers and realise a commercial outcome in this sector.”

The Australian National University’s InSpace professor, Anna Moore, said these partnerships’ impact would benefit Australia in the future.

“ANU InSpace is excited to get started with our diverse portfolio of iLAuNCH projects, which will position Australian technology and know-how to support global supply chains,” Professor Moore said.

“The impact of this will benefit Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector for generations to come.”

The Trailblazer Universities Program includes the opportunity for participating universities to partner with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to access specialist equipment and expertise to support the delivery of their projects.

One of these projects is designing, manufacturing, and deploying a mobile mission operations centre to support Australian launch services in remote and regional areas as part of the iLAuNCH Trailblazer.

The first group of iLAuNCH industry and delivery partners include: Amaero Engineering, Aspen Medical, Blast One, Boeing Defence Australia, ClearBox Systems, CSIRO, Leonardo Australia, New Frontier Technologies, Nominal Systems, Northrop Grumman, Rocket Technologies International, Saber Astronautics, SMR Automotive, Southern Launch, Space Machines Company, Spiral Blue, and Valley Precise Global.

The Australian government is building new research capabilities, driving commercialisation outcomes, and investing in new industry engagement opportunities through the Department of Education’s Trailblazer Universities Program. Through this federal program, iLAuNCH will receive $50 million of investment over four years, alongside a further $130 million from universities, industry partners, and CSIRO. The net economic benefit of the $180 million investment is expected to be $3.6 billion by 2040.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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