24 Mar 2017

Gaining insight into the latest developments in defence R&T

In this preview we examine what you can expect to find on a visit to DPRTE’s dedicated Research and Technology zone.

DPRTE 2017 recognises the vital role that new technologies will play in ensuring that the UK continues to build defence and security capacity.

This is particularly the theme of the Research and Technology Knowledge Transfer Zone. The zone will detail progress in key defence transformation projects including the Defence Materiel Strategy and the Ministry of Defence’s Ten Year Equipment Plan. These set out the Department’s forecast expenditure plans to deliver and support equipment to the Armed Forces in order to meet the objectives set out in the National Security Strategy.

The zone will offer a range of presentations and training sessions throughout the day supporting research and technology (R&T) across the defence sector.

The agenda of presentations in the zone includes a number of expert speakers.

Jeremy Smith, lecturer at the Centre for Defence Acquisition at Cranfield University, will present on the impact of additive manufacturing on the defence supply chain.

Later Paul Winstanley, Innovation Director at the UK Defence Solutions Centre, will talk on aligning stakeholders to accelerate the exploitation of innovation. Brendan Vickers, SBRI Account Manager at Innovate UK, will showcase recent Small Business Research Initiative defence projects; and Andy Johnston, Head of Defence Programme at techUK, will talk about the skills gaps in the sector and what can be done to fill them.

In the afternoon, Neal Smith, Capability Adviser for Medical Sciences at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), will speak on innovation in defence – medical sciences.

Dstl is not only contributing Mr Smith’s expertise to DPRTE 2017, it also expects to gain from the event.

A spokesman for Dstl said: “Our aims are to attract new, relevant suppliers and widen our supplier base, increase the visibility of science and technology, provide information to suppliers on how they can get funding in specific areas and encourage networking between suppliers and Dstl, to get a wider understanding of the external capabilities available.”

The spokesman outlined the main areas of interest for Dstl currently.

“Looking at this from a very top-level view, there seems to be a lot of interest in and coverage on cyber, synthetic biology, big data, quantum and advanced manufacturing. Innovation is also a hot topic, along with working together with suppliers.’’

Dstl aims to ensure that innovative technology contributes to MOD programmes. To help achieve this, last December the Defence and Security Accelerator was formed, made up of personnel from the MOD, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), Dstl and the Home Office.

It focuses on innovations which can provide advantage to defence and national security to protect the UK from its adversaries.

The MOD is encouraging businesses and organisations not historically involved in defence work to join their programmes, and to this end Dstl has been involved in a number of different projects. One such was Kaggle – a competition around Satellite Imagery Feature Recognition to encourage non-defence related suppliers to use their skills to help solve defence-related problems.

Dstl forges links with a range of partners and it has facilities available for non-governmental organisations, subject to terms and conditions.

One of these is the Home Made Explosives (HME) Facility and Centre of Excellence, which is located at Dstl’s Porton Down site. It brings together a unique selection of capabilities on a single secure site to fully understand the nature of HMEs.

There is also Dstl’s Destructor Complex at Porton Down, which provides a specialist disposal solution for hazardous or high-security waste materials. It is also available for use by other government departments and non-government organisations.

The Destructor Complex holds national asset status and is authorised by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. It is also authorised by the Environment Agency to operate under an environmental permit and is approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for specific risk materials.

Future defence requirements and capabilities rely on emerging, innovative and cutting-edge technologies. The UK’s Defence Science and Technology programme provides organisations of all sizes with a route to market and potential funding options.


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