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40 Under 40

Flying high with Katie Donaldson from Praxis Aeronautics

40 Under 40

The managing director of the solar energy technology company won the Piper Alderman “Emerging Industries” award for her contribution to the prosperous future of our state.

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Katie Donaldson joined her brother, Cameron, at the helm of solar technology company Praxis Aeronautics in 2018, following more than a decade in the interior design industry.

When she did she brought with her a healthy dose of disregard for the rules, willingness to take strategic risks and unrelenting desire to face challenges head on – all traits that have stood her in good stead as she has steered the fledgling business from start-up to scale-up.  

Praxis has developed a process of capturing solar cells in composite material to increase the flight time of unmanned aerial systems. The technology has so far been used in solar-powered wings for unmanned aerial vehicles and has potential for a number of other applications – including in electric vehicles. 

As managing director, Katie has positioned Praxis’s virtually weightless solar technology firmly in the defence sector, landing global commercial contracts in the small-unmanned aerial systems and unmanned surface vessel markets.

She has also formed strong links with the state’s three big universities, with a mind to keeping manufacturing in South Australia and have formal partnerships with the University of Adelaide and Flinders. They have also partnered with the Defence Teaming Centre at Mawson Lakes.

Beyond her work with Praxis, Katie’s long-term goal is to form a coalition of defence companies willing to pledge a percentage of their profits to soldier care and rehabilitation.

The profiles of all the 2021 40 Under 40 winners can be found in the Winter Edition of CityMag, out now in a coffee shop near you.

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