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Nova Systems to host SME forum

written by Adam Thorn | April 29, 2022

Engineering firm Nova Systems is set to launch a new summit that will help defence SMEs better capitalise on opportunities and make Australia more self-sufficient.

It will take place on 11 May at the National Maritime Museum and is timed to coincide with this year’s Indo Pacific Conference in Sydney.

“Australian SMEs have the advantage of being innovative and incredibly nimble, with the ability to make fast decisions, a massive advantage when it comes to implementing new technology and capability,” Nova Systems CEO Jim McDowell said.

“As a sovereign industry leader, bringing together a concentration of Australian defence capabilities creates opportunities for SMEs to grow and creates more choice for the defence client.”

McDowell noted the challenges associated with operating in the current environment.


“Post-pandemic, and with an increasingly uncertain global climate, it’s as important as ever that Australia builds sovereign capability and becomes more self-sufficient,” he said.

“A truly sovereign Australian enterprise’s profits that are generated from Australian defence projects to deliver capability to our forces stays in-country and is reinvested in future defence capability, contributing to the national economy and jobs for Australians – for the benefit of this generation and beyond.”

A number of senior defence industry stakeholders are set to take part in the SME Summit, including:

  • Jim McDowell, CEO, Nova Systems;
  • Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm, head of Maritime Systems, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group;
  • Team Norsta representatives including Norship, Tropical Reef Shipyard and Secora; and
  • Bec Humble, chief of strategy and corporate affairs, Nova Systems.

Topics to be covered by the speakers include the current state of play, partnering with CASG, and growing a small business to a mid-tier entity.

It comes after the business group’s founder, Jim Whalley, appeared on the Australian Aviation podcast last year and talked about the importance of getting more young people into engineering. You can listen to the episode above.

Whalley subsequently stepped down as chair of the board after more than two decades to become deputy chair.

The switch around meant Julie Cooper is now his replacement, after previously joining the engineering business as a non-executive director in July 2017 and becoming interim group CEO in July last year.

During her career as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, she worked with clients in Australia, the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Nova has become one of the country’s largest sovereign defence companies, and in July last year, signed up its 300th subcontractor company.

The Australian defence and aerospace firm hit the milestone after agreeing a deal with Queensland-based Revolution Aerospace, a start-up with a mix of both service and product offerings focused on drones.

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