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D.Start Catalyst

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Defence has partnered with Australian non-profit Common Mission Project Limited (CMP Ltd) to support the establishment of the D.Start Catalyst program across several Australian universities.

Students participating in D.Start Catalyst will join a growing movement to make the world a safer place by using modern innovation tools and techniques to solve defence and national security problems.

D.Start Catalyst builds on the success of established United States and United Kingdom programs – Hacking for Defense (H4D) and Hacking for MoD – as well as a pilot program using the same methodology, known in Australia as Hacking for National Security (H4NS), at the University of New South Wales in early 2021.

D.Start Catalyst is a key element of the Next Generation Technologies Fund’s Defence Research Accelerator program that helps to create an understanding of the Defence problem space within the Australian educational and entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is also part of Defence’s effort to reach the STEM community and to attract the best and brightest into Defence and defence industry careers.

Student-entrepreneurs are empowered through the D.Start Catalyst program to solve real-world defence and national security challenges. Small teams of students enrolled in Master’s degree programs in a variety of fields will apply lean start-up methods to problems posed by Defence.

The new partnership with CMP Ltd permits Defence to draw on expertise from the US and UK programs, deliver training for Defence problem sponsors and Australian university staff, and coordinate the delivery of D.Start Catalyst courses at Australian universities.

Proven Methodology in the US and the UK. Powerful Network.

In 2016 Stanford University initiated the H4D program in its Department of Engineering. That success led to the formation of a US non-profit organisation called Common Mission Project (CMP) in partnership with the US Department of Defense. Since then, CMP has delivered H4D courses at more than forty US universities.

In 2019, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and a UK-based branch of Common Mission Project launched Hacking for MoD. In 2020, the program expanded to seven top universities in the UK.

CMP’s programs are geared toward building and connecting an international network of entrepreneurs and university students with like-minded problem-solvers in government and academia to solve the challenges of our time. This is achieved by (1) leading mission-driven entrepreneurship academic programs, (2) training and supporting educators and student teams, and (3) convening the mission-driven entrepreneurship community.

Jamie Watson

Jamie Watson

Jamie Watson is the Founding Director of the Common Mission Project Australia. Prior to joining the Common Mission Project, Jamie spent more than 30 years working with Defence. As an operator and a researcher, Jamie has gained unique insights into the application of novel solutions to complex problems. Having held strategic Defence science liaison roles within Australia and the United States he has extensive experience in translating problem statements into research and development activities. Jamie is an experienced innovation instructor, coach, and mentor. He is driven by an insatiable appetite to deliver meaningful outcomes to beneficiaries. He holds tertiary qualifications in Maritime Engineering, Technology, and Urban Planning.


Dr David Burt

David Burt

David Burt is an experienced commercial advisor and Director of Entrepreneurship at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) where he leads UNSW Founders, a program that helps UNSW students, scientists and alumni to turn their ideas and scientific research into startups. David is globally recognised as an expert in technology commercialisation and is currently the Non-Executive Chairman of RapidAIM, a Non-Executive Director at Cicada Innovations and a member of the Silentium Defence Advisory Board. He was previously the Executive Manager of Innovation at the CSIRO where he founded and led the ON Program technology accelerator. David was a driving force UNSW's pilot of the Hacking for National Security program. He has been a mentor and an adviser to the Common Mission Project Limited team from its establishment.


NGTF acknowledgement