News story

Accelerating Defence Innovation

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin challenges academics and businesses to keep the UK at the cutting-edge through innovation

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin. Crown Copyright.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin. Crown Copyright.

Minister Harriett Baldwin today challenged academics and businesses to help the UK save lives, money and win battles in the information age in the latest development of the MOD’s Innovation Initiative.

The Minister launched the Defence and Security Accelerator in front of 300 delegates at the inaugural Maritime Enterprise Innovation Scotland Conference (MEISC) at the University of Strathclyde.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

The Defence Innovation Initiative and £800M Defence Innovation Fund aim to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future.

This Innovation Challenge calls for innovators to develop new technologies to improve the UK’s ability to analyse and exploit data in order to inform decision-making.

With a rising Defence budget, and a £178 billion equipment plan, our commitment to collaboration will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.

This £3m Accelerator competition, backed by the MOD’s £800 million innovation fund, is looking for new technologies, processes and ways of working to improve the way we analyse and exploit data in order to inform decision-making. For example, it is hoped that innovative use and development of sensors and artificial intelligence will give our commanders better situational awareness of the battlefield, so they can act faster and more effectively than our adversaries. Projects are expected to last up to six months, and initial results need to be delivered to Defence by November 2017.

The Accelerator will enable potential suppliers to collaborate, experiment with, and fast track innovative ideas against a series of Defence challenges which are designed to focus innovative endeavour across UK Defence and security. They reflect the biggest challenges, risks and opportunities facing our Forces with the aim of preserving or enhancing the UK’s strategic edge.

Innovation is a vital element in developing the UK’s economic strength, productivity and competitiveness. Building on this, the MEISC seeks to improve the links and opportunities between the Royal Navy and Scottish academia and industry – seen as vital given Scotland’s role at the heart of the UK National Shipbuilding Strategy and as the home of the UK Submarine Service.

The Conference will allow existing and potential members of the Defence supply chain, including SMEs, to understand how to collaborate with Defence, and develop new routes to market for their technologies.

A legacy of the conference will see the Royal Navy, University of Strathclyde and industry guaranteeing funding for at least six defence innovation PhDs, with the final number and subjects being confirmed in January ahead of the new academic year in autumn 2017.

After speaking at the Conference, Minister Harriett Baldwin will visit the Govan shipyard to cut steel two of the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vehicles. The OPV programme sustains around 800 Scottish shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde and hundreds more across 113 companies in the UK supply chain.

Published 8 December 2016