By KATE BANVILLE
COMPANIES across the Darling Downs are propelling the region onto the global stage with new government funding helping to further develop operations in support of lucrative defence and aerospace deals.
Momentum has been building across the region following historical deals penned with the likes of Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit international space program and Boeing’s new MQ-28 Ghost Bat drone, the first military aircraft to be built in Australia in more than 50 years.
And with the exciting projects comes the need for specialist skills and facilities.
It’s why homegrown companies like Toowoomba’s JRS Manufacturing Group have been awarded $30,000 by the Queensland government as part of its $1.5 million Defence and Aerospace Industry Development Fund (DAIDF).
The manufacturing company fills an essential cog in the massive defence and aerospace supply chains by providing the coating and treatment to air and spacecraft to ensure they can withstand the difficult conditions of Earth’s atmosphere.
University of Southern Queensland’s Chief Technology Officer Dr Joni Sytsma said the region was uniquely placed to deliver defence and aerospace projects which have already attracted more interest to grow the sector.
“The University of Southern Queensland has a substantial interest in expanding our hypersonics research group,” Sytsma said.
“Fundamentally we’re investing through our iLaunch program by growing the research fields with hypersonics and advanced manufacturing, the advanced manufacturing area has the ability to develop composites and materials that are suitable for aerospace vehicles.
“The local availability of high-tech research in aerospace fields, manufacturing, and aerospace provides a substantial opportunity to bring high-value jobs, products and services to the region.”
Chinchilla-based manufacturing company MFE Pty Ltd, which provides manufacturing, maintenance, project and refrigeration services to the resource and related industries was also among the region’s small to medium-sized businesses to be awarded funds.
MFE Business Development Manager Tyler Hernon said $30,000 in finding from the DAIDF would enable the company to obtain International Standards Organisation certification for welding systems and cyber protection.
“Through our government contacts it’s been highlighted that defence is something we should look at, and becoming defence ready for the amount of works that are going through Tooowomba and surrounding areas,” Hernon said.
“We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve and defence is definitely something that’s burgeoning in this region.
“We’re a little bit unsure of where we fit in the market, and what that market is really going to look like in ten years, but we know for sure that there is a market.
“We have a feeling that there’s going to be room for a lot of people to be involved, especially for companies like us in building components and general servicing.”
Queensland became Australia’s first state or territory to develop its own targeted Defence Strategy with its 2020 release of the Queensland Defence Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan, of which the DAIDF falls under.
Deputy Premier Steven Miles says the government also aims to leverage off the Australian Army which has 40 per cent of its personnel and equipment based in Queensland.
“With a heavy Defence presence across the State, defence industries have far-reaching benefits for regional Queensland,” Mr Miles says.
“The Queensland Government has made no secret of the fact that we want to be the lead state in supporting Australia’s Defence needs through our homegrown businesses.”