Taofiq Huq standing in front of an aerial reconnaissance image

According to Spiral Blue founder Taofiq Huq, their technology uses artificial intelligence to autonomously detect, identify and track surface activities and objects.

“Current Earth observation satellites cannot achieve meaningful levels of persistence over large areas due to limitations in the quantity of data they can transmit to the user,” Mr Huq said.

“We are overcoming this by using on-board artificial intelligence on our satellites, capturing up to 100 times more area than would be possible using today’s Earth observation satellites.”

Spiral Blue didn’t think a two-man operation would have a chance of being a defence supplier.

“We didn’t know how to become a defence supplier. The defence market appeared to be a secret that no one really understood. We learned it is actually possible to work with defence, you just have to understand the process.” Mr Huq said.

Spiral Blue were receiving mentorship from Saber Astronautics CEO, Jason Held and Lead Avionics Engineer and Business Developer, Andreas Antoniades, when they became aware of Saber Astronautics’ work in defence and the Defence Innovation Hub.

“We received significant consultation with Saber before submitting our own proposal to the Defence Innovation Hub for our persistent Earth observation technology,” Mr Huq said.

“We were interested in entering the defence market as we thought our technology would be of interest to them. We had been working on a warning system for maritime piracy to sell to shipping companies when we identified another purpose for our work.”

Spiral Blue engaged with the CDIC for advice on developing their Defence Innovation Hub proposal. They were connected with a facilitator who provided them with guidance on entering the defence market and which stakeholders to engage with at Defence.

“Our assigned facilitator gave us a thorough run down of the marketplace and explained how to engage. We now have a clear understanding of what we need to do to progress in the industry."

Spiral Blue are working towards several goals in the defence market, including entering the supply chain with a prime contractor, working on a project like the Future Maritime Surveillance Capability project, and working with the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation to add the component to their satellites.

“We are also looking for R&D opportunities with Defence and hope to develop a product that could fly by 2021.”

Mr Huq encouraged small businesses wanting to enter the defence market to talk to the CDIC. “Contact the CDIC as soon as possible. Engaging with stakeholders does take time but it is possible to become a defence supplier,” he said.