Sanjay Mazumdar leads $250 million Defence Trailblazer initiative

04 November 2022 3 min. read
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KPMG partner Sanjay Mazumdar has been appointed Executive Director of the Defence Trailblazer for Concept to Sovereign Capability.

A partnership between the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales, the Defence Trailblazer for Concept to Sovereign Capability is a four-year program that aims to create a step change in the Australian defence innovation culture.

Part of the government’s Trailblazer initiative (which has numerous industry-focused initiatives), the program seeks to improve the commercialisation of publicly-funded research & development in the defence landscape through better collaboration between ecosystem players and a more focused approach for scaling-up innovation.

Sanjay Mazumdar, Executive Director of the Defence Trailblazer for Concept to Sovereign Capability

According to co-initiators the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales, the program has approximately $250 million pledged, with $50 million coming from the government and over $140 million stemming from some 50 industry partners located around the country.

“The Defence Trailblazer will accelerate the development of sovereign dual-use capabilities in important areas such as quantum, artificial intelligence, cyber, hypersonics, autonomous systems and space technology,” explained Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) at the University of New South Wales.

Leading the program is Sanjay Mazumdar, who previously was a partner at KPMG and a leader in its Data & Cloud practice within the Management Consulting division. He also was also the firm’s inaugural national Chief Data Officer.

Mazumdar brings around 30 years of experience in the defence, national security and ICT sectors to the role. He previously was CEO of Defence Systems Innovation Centre and spent close to a decade at BAE Systems.

“Sanjay has extensive management experience and strong understanding of data science, systems engineering, data analytics and cybersecurity. He will help bring together defence, industry and the research community to transition research intellectual property from the lab to the field to solve some of defence’s highest priority and most complex needs,” said Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Adelaide.

“My initial focus will be to work with the team to understand, plan and mobilise the project. We will understand the priorities for all the stakeholders, plan the programs to deliver on those priorities and mobilise the team to deliver at pace,” said Mazumdar.

“The four-year timeline for the program reflects the urgency of the strategic threat landscape as well as the urgency of the need for change within the innovation system. It also means we will need to be very focussed in the program and work at pace in an agile manner.”

“The Trailblazer team will aim to create a sustainable program that will exist beyond the initial four-year window.”

According to Defence Trailblazer’s own estimates, the program will trigger a net economic benefit to the Australian economy of $1.5 billion over 10 years through its upcoming projects.