DPRTE: the UK’s leading defence procurement event is not to be missed


Now in its fifth year, the UK’s premier defence procurement and supply chain event, DPRTE, has arrived. Here we take a look at what’s on offer at this must-attend showcase.

Donald Trump is proposing to increase US government spending by $54 billion, a hike of nearly ten per cent, which will be spent on – among other things – more ships and military aircraft.

The new US President has also repeatedly called on NATO members to increase their defence spending to meet the alliance’s commitment of two per cent of GDP; at least some of them, nervously eyeing a resurgent Russia, are likely to move in that direction, with Germany, for example, spending £1.7 billion more on its military this year.

The President’s move is sure to make waves further afield. Indeed, within days of him outlining his proposal, China had announced an increase in its own defence budget of about seven per cent for 2017.

The UK has already embarked on a major defence spending programme with the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 in which the Government committed to spending £178 billion over the next decade and the Ministry of Defence’s ongoing Ten-Year Defence Equipment Plan, which has another five years to run.

It is against this global backdrop of increased defence spending in an increasingly uncertain world that Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2017 is being held on 28 March at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

DPRTE is the UK’s leading defence procurement and supply chain event, bringing together more than 1500 key decision makers from across the MOD and other public sector bodies, prime contractors, wider industry and academia. As such, it will offer buyers and suppliers throughout the defence acquisition supply chain unrivalled opportunities. DPRTE, which is now in its fifth year, is designed to strengthen links and communication between the MOD, its prime contractors and the entire defence supply chain.

But, more than that, it will allow businesses and organisations to make new contacts, get up to speed on the latest developments and innovations, and share best practice. The showcase allows suppliers to advertise their products and services to their key target audiences while providing buyers with an ideal forum in which to make known their forthcoming requirements.

DPRTE is a particularly important event for any SME seeking to bring its innovative products, processes or services to the defence market. The Government’s current target is that by 2020 twenty-five per cent of MOD direct and indirect procurement spend will be with SMEs, and to meet that target the Department is seeking to develop new sources of supply by drawing non-traditional defence suppliers into participating in procurement opportunities across their supply chains. This event presents a unique opportunity for such companies to bring themselves to the MOD’s attention.

It also gives delegates an invaluable opportunity to hear some of the sector’s leading international experts sharing their considered forecasts on what is on – or just over – the horizon in defence procurement, whether that be driven by innovation, a shifting geopolitical situation or long-term government policy. Such insights are crucial in an industry where programmes can stretch over many years and technological development is vital.

Supported by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and other leading MOD organisations and trade associations, DPRTE 2017 will host a range of interactive features, including:

  • Live Keynote Arena
  • Product Showcase Exhibition
  • Four Knowledge Transfer Zones
  • DE&S Procurement Pavilion
  • Two Buyer Engagement Villages

The Live Keynote Arena will host some of the most influential and authoritative speakers from across the defence procurement community – individuals who help set and deliver the UK’s defence procurement strategy.

Fiona Phillips, Head of Commercial Army at the MOD, will talk about the Army’s plans to improve its effectiveness, reduce risks and maximise benefits, including those to industry; while Rob Solly, Acting Head of the Defence and Security Accelerator, will explain how the Accelerator is engaging and funding innovators to solve defence and security challenges. Other speakers include Nick Elliott, Director General Commercial at Defence Equipment and Support; Joshua Reddaway, Director Cross Government at the National Audit Office; and Professor Trevor Taylor from the Royal United Services Institute.

The Product Showcase Exhibition gives organisations of all sizes a great opportunity to demonstrate their solutions and services directly to key decision makers in the defence procurement supply chain. More than 80 exhibitors are already signed up ranging from IT specialists to diesel engine manufacturers and from academics to floor covering manufacturers, spanning both the public and private sectors.

Visitors will get to see a vast range of innovative products and leading-edge developments while also being able to network and make valuable new contacts and renew established ones.

DPRTE’s four Knowledge Transfer Zones are designed to increase the knowledge and skills of all attendees with a range of educational sessions to facilitate learning and the sharing of ideas.

The four themed zones are: Research and Technology; Supply Chain and Partnering; Buyer Excellence in Procurement; and Export and Business Growth.

The Research and Technology zone will offer presentations and training sessions throughout the day. These include from SBRI Account Manager at Innovate UK Brendan Vickers, who will be showcasing some recent SBRI defence projects; and Andy Johnston, Head of Defence Programme at techUK, who will take a look at skills gaps and what the defence industry can do to close them. Attendees will also be able to hear from Peter Soar, Business and Development Manager for Military and Defence at NovAtel, who will talk on Assured Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) – in particular the threats to PNT, especially offensive GNSS jamming, and mitigation and protection techniques.

The Buyer Excellence in Procurement zone, meanwhile, will feature a range of buyer-focused sessions designed to enhance skills within areas specific to MOD buyers, from ‘Addressing the Efficiency Challenge’ to ‘Tips on Creating a Good Tender Specification’.

The Supply Chain and Partnering zone on the other hand will offer a range of presentations and training sessions on the many and varied supply chain opportunities available to businesses across the defence sector.

Finally, the Export and Business Growth zone, which is supported by the Department for International Trade, will provide specialist export advice and practical assistance with civilian and military advisers on hand and several seminar sessions.

The central DE&S Procurement Pavilion at DPRTE 2017 will be a space for visitors to get to know an organisation that has an operational budget of £14 billion and which buys and supports the equipment for the UK’s Armed Forces, from ships, aircraft, vehicles and weapons to electronic systems and information systems.

This year’s two dedicated buyer engagement areas are the MOD Buyer Engagement Village and the Prime Contractor Engagement Village.

The MOD Buyer Engagement Village will offer an opportunity to engage directly with buyers and suppliers, network and make new contacts and connections.

Visitors to the Prime Contractor Engagement Village will be able to meet many of the prime contractors – such as BAE Systems, Airbus, QinetiQ and Boeing – currently engaged in the delivery of major MOD projects.

But do arrive early because appointments will be on a first come, first served basis and will be allocated on arrival at the event at the entrance to the respective village.

DPRTE is the most important event in the UK defence procurement calendar. It offers a unique line-up of the most influential and informed speakers who will provide invaluable insight not only into current and future developments in the defence and security sectors but also into the thinking and policies of the MOD moving forward.

It represents, all in all, a quite unmissable opportunity.

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