Defence Minister Philip Dunne has visited the UK Defence Solutions Centre in Farnborough, to highlight the important partnership between the MOD and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) when it comes to innovation in Defence.
Mr Dunne chaired a Defence Suppliers Forum, bringing together the MOD and other government departments with small business leaders. It provided SMEs the chance to interact with the MOD and to engage directly with senior MOD officials to discuss a range of topics crucial to small businesses.
A series of talks and discussions were then held, from delivering prosperity and innovation to the UK Value Chain, to talks on the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory‘s (Dstl) developing relationship with SMEs.
As part of the visit, the Minister also had a chance to highlight Dstl’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) series of Small Business Research Initiative-themed competitions as part of the ‘£10 million Defence Growth Partnership Innovation Challenge’ funded by the MOD.
The aim of the challenges, which are being supported by the centre in Farnborough, is to encourage the development of innovative Defence products for use by MOD and for export in support of UK prosperity.
So far, the challenges have been on the topics of ‘agile immersive mission training’, ‘persistent surveillance from the air’, and ‘autonomy and big data for defence’. These Centre for Defence Enterprise competitions have received almost 200 proposals from across industry and academia, with nearly 50 contracts awarded so far to the value of £4million.
Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said:
I am really pleased to bring the MOD’s SME Forum here to Farnborough today, and to meet several Small and Medium Enterprises, who are already contributing so much to the Defence industry.
Through the Defence Growth Partnership Innovation Challenge, the MOD is committed to harnessing and growing the incredible creativity in our Defence supply chain, ensuring we are making the most of Great British skills for both our Armed Forces and our export customers around the world.
Speaking at the SME Forum, UK Defence Solutions Centre CEO Steve Brittan said:
These SME Forums are a great opportunity to engage further with the UK Value Chain and to showcase the exciting work that the SMEs are contributing to the Defence industry. These events are crucial in developing a deeper understand in how, as an industry, we can work closer together.
Manish Jain, from Amethyst Research Ltd., a small company based in Glasgow who have been developing high performance Infrared detectors for Dstl, said:
Thanks to the support from the Defence Growth Partnership Challenge and the UK supply chain, we were able to make our contribution to innovation a success.