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International defence research lab with France planned for Adelaide

By Michele Nardelli

Australian and French flags A joint Australian-French defence research laboratory is planned for Adelaide

An international research laboratory which aims to turbocharge scientific collaboration between South Australian universities and the key French national science research organisation CRNS and Naval Group, is proposed for Adelaide. 

Peak French Government scientific research organisation CNRS and French maritime technology, shipbuilding and energy company Naval Group, have signed a Letter of Intent with UniSA, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide to develop a proposal to base what would be one of only five  industry-linked CNRS international joint laboratories in the world, in Adelaide. 

The undertaking was one of a number of significant defence-associated education and research commitments sealed in late February in Canberra during the visit of the Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mme Frédérique Vidal. 

The initiative builds on successful collaborations between the three South Australian universities and CNRS research laboratories, such as Lab-STICC in Brittany. 

The proposed laboratory is one of a number of significant defence-associated education and research commitments sealed in late February in Canberra during the visit of the Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mme Frédérique Vidal.The proposed laboratory is one of a number of significant defence-associated education and research commitments sealed in late February in Canberra during the visit of the Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mme Frédérique Vidal

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says that the decision to create a joint laboratory is a visionary and very welcome initiative by the CNRS and Naval Group CEOs. 

“This is a landmark opportunity to boost both Australian-French scientific cooperation and Australian sovereign technical capability in a range of key areas, including those that connect human factors with the physical aspects of maritime vehicles in novel ways,” Prof Lloyd says.  

“UniSA is delighted to contribute to the laboratory its unique world-leading expertise in an interdisciplinary combination of research relating to human solutions for complex environments, including psychophysiology and behaviour, metrics-based ergonomic design and virtual reality and augmented reality.” 

Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling says the combined strength of three world-class universities located in South Australia, the defence state, makes Adelaide an ideal location for the laboratory. 

“This is yet more evidence of South Australia being an unbeatable place to do business – by drawing on the specific research fortes of each university we collectively provide an unrivalled capacity in advanced research,” Prof Stirling says. 

University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen says he welcomes further international collaboration with CNRS, Naval Group and industry. 

“The intersection of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and human factors is one of the key frontiers of research today – areas we are pursuing with vigour,” Professor Rathjen says. 

Naval Group Vice President International R&D Cooperation François Duthoit welcomes the collaboration. 

"We are committed to cultivating an innovation environment in Australia around our scientific, education and industrial community,” Mr Duthoit says. 

“The establishment of the laboratory is one of the key pillars of this commitment and will provide us with opportunities to collaborate with our Australian university and R&D partners in the areas of autonomous systems, human factors and artificial intelligence.”  

Alongside academics from within the three South Australian universities, the joint laboratory will be able to draw on relevant expertise across CNRS’s 33,000 researchers as well as Naval Group experts.