The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is open to innovation and supports new entrants into defence with research funding and advice through the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE)
Dr Helen Almey, Head, Centre for Defence Enterprise
MOD?s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is at the forefront of defence innovation ? giving anyone with a good idea a unique entry point into the UK defence market. With its easy-to-access online portal, it provides suppliers with information and access to military requirements, creating partnerships and taking innovation through to where it matters ? supporting the Armed Forces in ongoing and future challenges.
Launched in May 2008, by August 2009 it had already issued 54 individual awards ranging from £28,000 to £185,000 ? a total of £3.5 million.
CDE Head, Dr Helen Almey leads a dedicated and experienced team providing assistance and support to potential suppliers seeking a fast response and a guided entry into MOD. Almey is keen to encourage suppliers to contact the team. ?We are approachable and keen to share our knowledge with anyone who is interested in supporting UK defence. We have now proved that we can deliver, taking defence science and technology through from concept to application with speed and efficiency.?
Regular seminars and workshops keep suppliers informed and updated on current military requirements and provide opportunities to meet key figures involved in the defence market. Almey believes these are an important part of CDE?s work and help to create a vibrant defence ?community? that can work together towards a common goal: ?They have proved hugely successful and are an opportunity to network and share ideas, leading to partnerships and other ways of working together,? enthuses Almey.
Polaris Consulting Ltd, Managing Director, David Bangert explains how attending a CDE seminar led directly to a major contract for his company. ?The seminars provide invaluable opportunities for networking with MOD, industry and academia. In our case, a contact made at the 2008 logistics seminar led directly to a contract to deliver a planning tool to support operations in Afghanistan.
?CDE has provided some great opportunities for Polaris. One of our proposals submitted through the portal is now under contract. This involves research with the University of Portsmouth to deliver an innovative approach to inventory management which will help the Joint Support Chain (JSC) by increasing the effectiveness and reducing the cost of inventory management.?
D30 lab, CEO, Richard Palmer has also experienced the benefits of CDE. He was advised to contact the newly formed organisation when it was launched and within a few months received the funding he required to develop his product, which uses ?intelligent molecules? that absorb impact energy on shock.
As a new entrant into the defence market, Palmer is fully supportive of their online system and integrated approach to doing business: ?Working with MOD is different and the nice thing for us, as a design-centric company, is that they recognise that the emotional response to product is important and why we try to get ourselves embedded with the user to understands their needs.?
Director, Science and Technology Operations, Dr Chris Mace believes that CDE?s success proves that MOD is accessible and open to anyone who wishes to find out more and contribute to UK defence. ?MOD is positive and supportive of this new way of doing business. Our success is dependent on being agile and responsive to our suppliers and being able to recognise and encourage innovation ? wherever it derives. We have shown that we are approachable and can reach out and communicate with potential suppliers and that our shared goals will enable us to produce cutting-edge technology to support troops.?
The whole proposal and assessment process is handled through a secure bespoke online service. The CDE operates against standard Ts & Cs which are normally non-negotiable. Full details are available on the website www.science.mod.uk
All proposals are assessed within the Performance Assessment Framework (PAF) which provides a common framework across the whole MOD Research Programme. The framework gives guidelines for assessing supplier proposals for research, assessment of ongoing work and performance assessment for completed projects. Assessors are drawn from across the MOD, including Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl) and the Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC), which is a non-departmental public body of MOD providing independent and learned advice.
In-depth knowledge of MOD means that the CDE team can decide on the right assessment route for each proposal: ?The time spent on assessment is tailored to the value and complexity of the proposal, with the simpler and lower-value proposals receiving a more rapid assessment. Proposals for funding over £100,000 require more consideration so lower-value applications for less than £60,000 are likely to receive a quicker decision,? explains Almey.
MOD follows UK government policy on IPR which is detailed in DEFCON 705 (Intellectual Property Rights, Research and Technology) which vests ownership of the intellectual property with research providers. This means that research can be more rapidly exploited which is actively encouraged by MOD, both in defence and for commercial applications. Full details are available on the website www.science.mod.uk
Commitment to science and innovation is underlined in the ?Defence Technology Plan? (DTP) setting out MOD?s long-term research objectives. The DTP contains a cost-balanced list of current research and development (R&D) priorities, offering clear direction on investment in defence technology by articulating the high-level R&D objectives and associated research activities. This aims to stimulate fresh, innovative thinking that will go on to meet forthcoming challenges.
The DTP exists only as an online publication allowing users to browse objectives and activities across MOD?s main domains of activity:
Capability Visions identify innovative options to address long-term defence challenges. They are intended to promote a longer-term perspective, to stimulate new activity in the wider R&D community and to act as a guide for industry-funded research and for suppliers to seek new applications for existing technologies. The first Capability Visions were launched in Feb 09 and, working alongside the mainstream research programme, they add a further dimension in the drive to get the best innovation in key areas:
The Capability Visions programme has used CDE extensively as a means of seeking new ideas with over 19 contracts (worth a total of £886,000) already awarded and many more expected by the end of 2009.
For more information contact:
Centre for Defence Enterprise
Harwell Science and Innovation Campus
Oxfordshire OX11 0QR
Tel: 012 3543 8445
A commitment to communicating MOD?s vision for defence capability with new and existing suppliers. This has already been demonstrated through the publications of the ?Defence Technology Plan?, events such as the Defence Research 2009 conference (expected to be repeated in March 2010), the 2008 Grand Challenge and the ongoing success of the Centre for Defence Enterprise.
The provision of clearer guidelines on where business and industry can fit in with MOD research and equipment and support programmes.
The creation of a framework that will allow technology insertion and innovation to take place. This recognises the importance of systems engineering, which ensures that equipment is procured effectively and has through-life potential.
Development of business models that encourage fair reward for contributors and help transfer promising research in technology through to acquisition.
Encouraging innovators and suppliers by giving a quicker response to proposals and changing tendering and contracting procedures.
Added the 04 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2