Queensland military robotics firm crashes
A Queensland start-up company at the cutting edge of producing robotics for the military has succumbed to COVID-19 pressures.
Sunshine Coast-based Praesidium Global Pty Ltd collapsed this week, with founder and owner David Baird appointing an administrator over his stricken firm.
Baird, an ex-armed forces figure and electronics engineer from the UK, launched the company in 2016 and he managed to secure about $5m in contracts since then to produce "unmanned ground vehicles''.
After a contract with the Australian Defence Force wrapped up last year, he pivoted to export markets, focusing mainly onthe UK and the Middle East.
But freight costs to the UK surged from $36,000 in late 2019 to $180,000 in March last year as the pandemic exploded, effectively wiping out any profit, Baird said.
COVID-19 also made it extremely difficult to meet in person for product demonstrations. "There's only so far you can go with data sheets and Zoom calls,'' Baird said.
While JobKeeper helped prop up the company, it didn't qualify for the second round late last year, putting added pressure on the business, which had six employees.
Baird estimated that his creditors, including former staff, are owed about $250,000 and he's not optimistic about the year ahead.
"I'll bounce back but there's still uncertainty with COVID-19 in the coming year so I don't see 2021 getting any better,'' he said.
Gavin Morton from Morton + Lee Insolvency has been appointed voluntary administrator.
Originally published as Queensland military robotics firm crashes