Defence Leaders: Harnessing innovation for strategic advantage

The fifth panel of the DSEI Defence Leaders webinar series, Harnessing Innovation for Strategic Advantage, digs deep into exploring how the billions allocated to research and development in the Government’s 2021 Defence budget will push increased innovation through the defence technology pipeline.

The Integrated Review and the Defence Command Paper put science and technology at the forefront of the Government’s record £24 billion investment into Defence as it aims to create strategic advantage over its adversaries. Dedicating £6.6 billion of that funding to support the development of novel technologies will contribute greatly to the Prime Minister’s ambition for Britain to become a Science Superpower – but turning novel concepts or truly innovative technologies into capabilities is easier said than done.

This webinar brings together speakers from some of the groups already toiling at the coalface of innovation to address the question, How will Ministry of Defence approach turning ideas into real capabilities and cross the ‘Valley of Death’ that industry has encountered before?

Led by moderator Nik Bhutani, Head of Innovation, Science and Tech, Northrop Grumman, the panel includes Andy Caldwell, Head of DASA; Lt Col Peter Williams, Head of jHub; and James Gavin, Head of Future Capability Group, DE&S. The discussion considers the challenges that have come before, impediments to innovation in the current defence landscape, and what approach the government might make in delivering on this ambitious goal.

The panel will look at work currently being done by organisations including DASA, jHub, and the Future Capability Group and the BATS (Buying and Trying at Scale) initiative to support organisations developing low TRL technologies in scaling up and overcoming hurdles to access routes to market. It will investigate new approaches being taken by Defence in forming new relationships with industry, consider best practice for balancing the appetite for innovation with existing demands on the defence budget, and look at improving ways of working with SMEs that deliver better capability at the speed of relevance.

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