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Future-Adelaide Spotlight, The Advertiser

Future-Adelaide Spotlight, The Advertiser

Workforce swells as tech services company Swordfish Computing builds on Defence links Establishing itself as a defence industry partner has seen digital science and technology services company Swordfish Computing expand its workforce – with more growth on the cards.

Since making the strategic decision to establish itself as industry partners for Defence, digital science and technology services company Swordfish Computing has expanded its workforce by almost a third in just 18 months, including the addition of two graduates from Flinders University through the Premier’s Defence Industry Scholarship Program.

And the company plans to continue its growth within the sector. “There are a number of opportunities we are working towards so I don’t see that growth trajectory slowing in the near future,” says the company’s chief information officer, Themie Gouthas. “A lot of our work in defence is funded by the government, which at the moment is investing quite heavily in space and defence We’re hoping that continues for the longer term because a lot of effort has gone into building the business and recruiting, mentoring, training, coaching and building our employees’ capability.”

Those capabilities support future technologies in defence research and development programs covering electronic warfare, weapons systems, combat management systems, aerospace vehicle control systems, distributed resilient networks, artificial intelligence and autonomous decision systems, computer vision and immersive situational awareness. “Our primary goal is to help our defence clients solve their most interesting and challenging problems, working together as a trusted industry partner, helping to shape Australia’s current and future defence capability,” Gouthas says.

Most of the work Swordfish Computing carries out is for the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), one of whose objectives is to get innovation and technology out into industry so that it can be fast tracked into real capability. “In the past DSTG had done engineering and prototyping experimental systems in-house but, because of the change in viewpoint, they have been giving that work to private industry which can do it more efficiently and can get it to market quicker,” says Marcus Saunders, Swordfish Computing general manager.

“It’s also about building local capability,” Gouthas adds. “DSTG does the research then partners with SMEs to help contribute to that research and innovation, but also engineer it through the early stages to leading-edge capability that defence can use operationally.”

Swordfish Computing’s place in the development chain lies at the earlier stages. “Our position in the defence industry is slightly different to the bigger companies like Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems,” Saunders says. “We’re not in engineering – our staff are science, mathematics and physics experts who have some domain knowledge. We work in that transition space from pure research to demonstrable capability. And then the bigger companies take that demonstrable capability and turn it into robust, industry-standard compliant, safety-standard compliant capabilities that can be used in the real world.”

For SMEs like Swordfish Computing, working in the defence research environment is providing significant opportunities for its growing workforce to engage in a complex field like no other. “Defence invests in research and innovation and is pushing the leading edge, so our staff have the opportunity to do things they wouldn’t normally do,” Gouthas says. “It’s quite challenging and innovative.”

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