Sky’s the limit

Interview with Jackie Dujmovic – Director, Hover UAV

Jackie Dujmovic has fused her passion for conservation and entrepreneurial spirit to create a company that makes a real difference. Hover UAV is a Drone service and innovation company linking government and organisations with drone technology that saves lives. Now a standard on NSW beaches, Jackie has developed a drone system where lifesavers can raise a shark alarm or drop a lifesaving floatation device faster and safer than ever before. On top of this, they are at the cutting edge of plastic detection on beaches and whale tracking and conservation. For Jackie, this is just the beginning.

Your innovation

After dangerous sharks were seen amongst surfers at Redhead Beach in Newcastle, I set out to invent a range of products and services to aid in the response to such events. These products included a drone shark alarm; a modular flotation drop device; specific drone-beach training and standard drone-operating procedures. I can proudly say these products and services are now considered standard for Surf Life Saving NSW and NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Your story

Raised in Kurrajong, a small town northwest of Sydney, I always had a love of the ocean and conservation. After a short stint in hospitality I joined the global marine industry for 12 years, where I did everything from conservation to building super yachts. It taught me a lot about the ocean, technology, business and, most importantly, perseverance. When my first child was on his way, I decided it was time for a career change. Thinking of how to connect my love for technology and wanting to work in conservation, I saw potential in the emerging Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry.

Your business and team

Hover UAV is in a stage of growth, employing seven full-time staff over multiple states. In recent times, the business has changed its direction to a focus on consultancy and training. We help all clients from individuals to government implement the technology in a safe, legal and efficient manner. Application-based training has also been developed to assist operators maximise efficiency with the technology to enhance productivity and outcomes.

Innovation support

Building a successful business has taken an immense amount of drive, passion, time and commitment. It has taken an internal belief that the business will be a success and a foresight of the potential that exists. Advice from mentors has been invaluable. They have prevented me from slipping into pitfalls that I wouldn’t have been aware of. The Business Centre in Newcastle has been an amazing source of advice. They have always told us to focus on our strengths. Also, the Rare Birds Mentor Program, an Australia-wide program specifically for female entrepreneurs, placed me with the perfect mentor. Hover UAV has been very proactive in attending networking events. These have become pivotal to our business.

Why Newcastle

Newcastle is a very strong location to develop innovation. It’s home to an incredibly skilled and diverse talent pool that ranges from the mining sector to the ever expanding civilian and military aviation precinct at Williamtown. This coupled with a world class university and transportation links makes Newcastle the perfect option for a start-up. We have collaborated with other companies and innovators in the Newcastle area and have always found the talent we need locally.

Your biggest challenges

Less than one percent of commercial drone pilots in Australia are female. The UAV industry is male dominated. Although this has been challenging, through hard work and breaking down stereotypes I am now feeling as if I am regarded as an equal.

The future

Hover UAV’s vision for the future is to continue to be the critical link to emerging drone technologies. We will also continue to innovate and explore frontiers of drone use. We are specifically looking into operating drones over longer distances to aid in humanitarian efforts.

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