Defence Contracts International (DCI) hosted a series of webinars on ‘New opportunities from the Integrated Review’.
The second webinar in the series saw a focus on the huge investment from the Government into the science, technology and innovation sectors. This will help to achieve the MOD’s ambitions for evolution and greater agility to meet emerging threats but also has a much wider scope as Britain seeks to realise its ambitions to become a ‘science superpower’.
The webinar saw three leading figures from the MOD ‒ Nick Joad, Director of Defence Science and Technology (DST), Doug Umbers, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Andy Caldwell, Interim Head of the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) ‒ come together to examine what their organisations will be doing to meet the demands of the Integrated Review and outline what suppliers can do to gain access to these opportunities and the substantial levels of funding available.
Mr Joad said: “This is one of the most exciting times in my career in the MOD. What we’ve seen over the past year is a much enhanced emphasis across the whole of government on science and technology and I should emphasise that this is about achieving our opportunities as well as countering threats and it’s a whole government response.”
Doug Umbers, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), said his response to the Integrated Review was one of “greats”. He said: “I think it’s absolutely great to see science and technology at the forefront of government vision for the future. I think it’s great to see this intent matched with funding, which doesn’t always happen. I think it’s great for Dstl scientists and engineers supporting our position as a proven national asset and I think it’s great for a wider set of partners in industry and academia.”
Mr Umbers went on to highlight the level of spending and the key areas of investment. He explained: “The level of our funding is going to increase by over a billion pounds over the next four years and we expect 80% of that money to go through industry and academia.
“Activity is going to increase which gives plenty of opportunity for all and what we need to have is a highly collaborative environment that allows us to deliver the impact that the science needs to have.
“The growth specifically is in areas such as artificial intelligence and data science, autonomy and robotics, cyber, space, advanced weapons and emerging generation after next tech and concepts.”
Andy Caldwell, Interim Head of DASA, shared how DASA would see its funding for competitions increase from a capacity of £40 million per annum to £60 million.
There would be an emphasis on access to mentoring and finance to support onward commercialisation of projects and exploitation tracking and analysis to increase the pace and pull through of innovative ideas into use.
Mr Caldwell highlighted DASA’s regional Innovation Partners as a key route for businesses seeking to engage with the organisation. He said: “One of the things we are very proud of in DASA is our Innovation Partners in every region of the United Kingdom and the devolved administrations. We have people on the ground who will come and meet you and explain how DASA works and how to take part in our competitions.”
The clear message from the webinar and the key players at the MOD’s S&T organisations is that for those companies operating in the science and technology sector, this is an exciting time for the industry and the opportunities arising from the ambitions of the Integrated Defence Review will be considerable.
To find out more about the Integrated Defence Review, get your copy of our latest report.