Future Defence kit showcased

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Technologies which could deliver benefits to the front line of the future were shown off today by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) who have received MOD research contracts.

The futuristic kit was presented at an innovation showcase at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London.

Defence Minister Peter Luff announced at the event that nine new contracts, worth £500,000 in total, are being placed with SMEs, who make up around 60 per cent of all Defence research contracts.

Innovative ideas and technologies on show today included:

• A body armour cover with electronic circuits woven into the fabric - Staines-based Intelligent Textiles Ltd were awarded £49,500 to develop the technology to reduce dismounted troops’ dependency on batteries to power equipment carried on operations.

• Transferring motorsport technology to protected vehicles - Cosworth, from Milton Keynes, has been awarded a number of contracts by the MOD, including researching fuel efficiency.

• A portable oxygen generator - Cambridge Design Partnership has developed a lightweight, portable oxygen generator under a contract worth £70,000 that could be used on the front line to administer oxygen.

The nine new contracts offered to SMEs include funding worth £68,000 to Edinburgh-based Dreampact for research into persistent surveillance on the battlefield.

And Imperial College London has been offered £67,000 to research a sensor system to detect the direction of small arms fire.

The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said:

Small businesses across the country are in the vanguard of providing novel solutions to defence and security needs, particularly in the realm of cyber defence and warfare. They offer innovation, flexibility and niche capabilities.

The technology on show represents a fraction of the work being undertaken by some of the best brains in Britain. By embracing this work, the MOD has the potential to adapt, exploit and translate this research into kit and equipment that could directly benefit our troops on the front line.

Lending his support to the event, Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:

Innovation and enterprise are critical in developing new technologies to provide valuable assistance to our troops on the front line. It also sparks off new companies and industries that boost British industry. I am delighted to see the innovations on display and hope in the future they will play a role in supporting our troops and boosting the economy.

Technology proposals from SMEs are supported through research contracts from the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), based in Harwell, Oxfordshire. The centre acts as a bridge between the MOD and businesses that may have a product or research beneficial to defence and security. Experts at the CDE will assess both the science and the business proposals put forward on a case-by-case basis.

The innovation showcase was held during a period of consultation and engagement with industry following the recently launched Green Paper on Equipment, Support and Technology for UK Defence and Security.