MOD Secondment Opportunity

The Office of the Chief Technology Officer to the Navy Board has 4-12 month secondment opportunities working at the heart of Naval Command Headquarters in Portsmouth. Secondees will gain unique insight into how technology is being driven further and faster into the Royal Navy, working across all areas of the Service and engaging with a broad range of cutting-edge innovation and tech companies.

High-performing individuals are sought to support the delivery of OCTO’s agility, digital, autonomy and lethality strategies, not necessarily from a defence background. Interested companies should in the first instance contact for further details.

image © Crown Copyright

DSEI 2019: show delivers confidence in UK defence industry

On the opening day of DSEI 2019 (Defence and Security Equipment International), held at London’s ExCeL arena from 10 to 13 September, Minister for Defence Procurement Anne-Marie Trevelyan delivered a speech summarising the highlights of UK defence projects currently under way. Specifically, the minister discussed how the UK defence industry is leading the way in innovation across projects in construction, including more investments and less exclusivity.

Defence contracts to drive development in SMEs

Ms Trevelyan focused on the important and integral role SMEs play in defence procurement, expressing the philosophy that has always been core to the DCI brand – helping businesses of all sizes find, bid for and win defence contracts across the UK and internationally.

She spoke of pockets of brilliance in every corner of the four nations that make up the UK, using her own constituency, Berwick-upon-Tweed in the far north east of England, as an example. “I recently discovered that Hardy Fishing – who make the best fishing rods in the world by royal appointment – also use their expertise in weaving to manufacture slender fibres of incredible toughness for the wings of our regal Typhoon.”

It is important to recognise the expertise SMEs possess throughout the supply chain and their contribution to keeping UK defence procurement a thriving marketplace.

Future investment in defence people and security

The biennial DSEI fair regularly attracts a measure of controversy, with criticism over the range of arms and other military hardware on show. Ms Trevelyan addressed these concerns in her speech, stating that by investing in equipment and kit for the Armed Forces, citizens are protected against unthinkable dangers.

Defence procurement is as much about training talented people to make positive changes in the defence industry as it is about purchasing weaponry.

New investments in personnel training were announced at DSEI, including £31 million to provide a Joint Fire Synthetic Trainer at multiple sites across the UK. This project, which originated in an Israeli idea, will sustain jobs and allow students from the British Army, Royal Navy and RAF to train together in realistic battlefield scenarios.

There has also recently been a powerful drive to include more women in UK defence. Formally launched by Ms Trevelyan at DSEI 2019, the new ‘Women in Defence Charter’ project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Defence, Women in Defence UK and leading aerospace trade association ADS, among others. This partnership is a bid to get more talented female leaders winning top spots in the industry.

Getting SMEs into defence procurement

Are you part of a SME business that wants to win work with the Ministry of Defence?

Our portal advertises tender and contracts opportunities valued over £10K. Gain access to the official source of MOD contracts by registering for free with Defence Contracts Online.


Prompt Payment Policy

Government has a longstanding commitment to improve payment practices across the public and private sector. To support this commitment, a new Prompt Payment policy has been introduced which will use prompt payment performance as part of the supplier selection process, with effect from 1 September 2019.

Every year, thousands of businesses experience severe administrative and financial burdens as they are not paid on time. Late payment is a key issue for business, especially smaller businesses, as it can adversely affect their cash flow and jeopardise their ability to trade.

The Prompt Payment policy means that bidders for government contracts (including defence) will be required to provide evidence about their payment performance, including the percentage of invoices paid within 60 days across both their private and public sector business. Suppliers who are unable to demonstrate that they have effective systems in place that ensure a fair and responsible approach to payment of their supply chain may be excluded from bidding.

The Cabinet Office has now published detailed guidance PPN 04/19 on how payment performance will be taken into account in the procurement of major government contracts and you may need to take action to mitigate the risk of being excluded from bidding for government work.

Key points to note are as follows:

  • This policy will be implemented in government contracts with expected revenues above £5m per annum.
  • Although guidance PPN 04/19 applies to the Public Contracts Regulations (PCR) 2015, the MOD has adopted a similar approach to procurements conducted under the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations (DSPCR) 2011.
  • A phased approach to implementation will be adopted. Suppliers will not be excluded from bidding provided they meet 75% (of invoices paid within 60 days) in one of their previous two reports and submit an acceptable action plan for improvement to the contracting authority with their bid.
    The action plan will need to follow the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) format and meet five key criteria:

    • Identification of the primary causes of failure to pay
    • Actions to address each of these causes
    • Commitment to regular reporting on progress to your Audit Committee Plan signed off by a director
    • Plan published on company website (this can be a shorter summary plan)
  • The 75% threshold will be raised over time, and any changes will be fully communicated in advance.
  • Bidders can remove inter-company payments from their calculations, which can skew the headline figure on the published data.
  • Large companies should already be reporting payment performance every six months in accordance with the Reporting on Payment Practices and Performance Regulations 2017, and all relevant legal entities should be reporting this data via BEIS –

Suppliers are advised to:

This does not preclude the MOD’s standard contract condition (DEFCON 534) requiring suppliers to pay undisputed invoices within 30 days, which will take precedence. This condition also seeks to ensure prompt payment throughout the supply chain by requiring an equivalent condition to ensure that subcontractors also pay within 30 days.

Interested in working with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation?

Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) manages the defence estate in the UK and abroad. We will be tendering £5 billion worth of contracts in the next few years. We will be tendering hard and soft facilities management services, construction, professional services and utilities.

We would like to hear from suppliers that do not currently have contracts with DIO, but would be interested in doing business with us.

Our Supplier Management team will be contacting a sample of suppliers who complete the form. We would like to know how we can support those companies who are interested in our business.

This is part of delivering our strategic objectives to:

  • be easier to do business with
  • engage meaningfully with our suppliers;
  • and have a broader and more diverse supplier base.

Please fill out this short Expression of Interest form.


Defence Infrastructure Organisation priorities

The Army Warfighting Experiment 2020: Agile Command Control and Communication (AWE20: Agile C3) Industry Day

Aim: The aim of the event is to:

  • Outline the plan for the Army Warfighting Experiment project approach and timeline
  • Clarify what areas ‘Agile Command, Control & Communication’ covers.
  • Discuss requirements for the project
  • Network with other potential participants & Army trials staff

Context: AWE20, as with previous AWEs, is intended to be an exploration of emerging technologies suitable for exploitation by the Army in the short to medium term (<15 years).

It will culminate in a month-long trial which will recreate operational scenarios to test the useful possibilities and limitations of the systems supplied by industry. This user-centric trial presents a unique opportunity to explore the capability landscape and identify Army capability gaps. It will allow for effective collaboration between all levels of military personnel and engineers from industry suppliers. This can facilitate significant development of technologies and their CONEMP by exploiting the opportunity of an immediate feedback loop from front line users.

The theme for AWE20 is Agile Command, Control & Communications (C3). ‘How can we deliver agile command and control, to offer decisive advantage in response to operational complexity?’ This covers all aspects of C3 relating to battlefield headquarters.

For more insight and information on how to apply please follow this link.

Date: Thursday, 19th September 2019

Venue: Hilton Reading, Drake Way, Reading RG2 0GQ. There is limited onsite parking

Format: The event will start at 09:30. There will be presentations from Army HQ, DE&S Tech Office and Army Trials and Development Units. These will be followed by breakout sessions and opportunities for Q&As.

The event is designed to be an interactive, two-way conversation in order to ensure that the project satisfies industry needs and Army HQ requirements.

The expected duration will be until 16:00.

Attendees: The event is open to any supplier, but there is a limit of two representatives per company.

Applications: Suppliers who are interested in attending should express their interest in the project. Information on how to do this is found here.

Refreshments: Refreshments will be provided throughout the day and lunch will be available

Security: Photographic ID (driving licence or passport) will be required on the day to gain entry.

MOD at DPRTE 2019: Improving Industrial Engagement

The MOD is determined to harness the advantages of opening up its supplier base by making it easier for SMEs to do business with defence by removing the challenges faced by those companies looking for work with the defence sector. 

Speaking at Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2019, Jim Carter, Commercial Director, Supply Chain at MOD, outlined how the Department was moving ahead with plans to improve its industrial engagement – including its new SME Action Plan. 

The MOD’s SME Action Plan, launched at the end of March, outlines how it will improve its procurement spend with SMEs through working with major suppliers to remove barriers and improve access to opportunities for doing business with defence.  

Jim says: “The MOD is the largest procurement organisation in central government. We manage some of the most complex and technologically advanced requirements in the world. 

“One of our key messages is that we are going to need a deeper collaboration with our supply chain and be ever more demanding.” 

The MOD is looking to improve its commercial relationships across all aspects of the supply chain, starting with its prime contractors through its Strategic Partnering Programme. 

Jim explains: “Strategic partnering is about a refreshed approach to delivering improved performance with some of our very largest suppliers. 

“The objective is about making us more joined up as a customer. It is a complex landscape, so for both MOD and supplier having coherence and consistency in terms of that is key, but then it’s about driving tangible improvements in contractual performance to deliver mutual benefits to both organisations.” 

With the Strategic Partnering Programme very much concentrating on individual relationships, the Defence Suppliers Forum (DSF) looks at how the MOD can improve as a collective industry. 

Chaired by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, the DSF acts as the major conduit for MOD-industry relationships and includes representatives from prime contractors, international companies and SMEs.  

The DSF, which has recently undergone a refresh, brings together suppliers throughout the defence supply base with a focus on three themed areas of development: Capability, International & Innovation; People & Skills; and Commercial Enterprise Acquisition. 

Jim comments“The DSF is a central mechanism for the MOD and industry to work together on strategic change to support a joint vision developed together with industry.” 

Jim is keen to point out that overloading the industry with SMEs is not the solution to the challenges defence is facing, but that the MOD is seeking instead to ensure organisations of all sizes – preferred contractors, mid-tiers and SMEs alike – are being engaged to their optimal potential. 

“One of the fundamental shifts we have made is that we want this to be a really inclusive structure. We’ve probably fallen into the trap of saying, ‘We have a real challenge with SMEs  what we should do is fill the room with them and then we will solve that problem.’  

“We’ve realised that’s not going to crack it and it’s not going to crack it across this whole structure. We are trying to be much more inclusive in terms of our prime suppliers, our mid-tiers, our SMEs and our trade associations and bring them together.” 


This new vision for inclusivity was epitomised by an SME forum run by the MOD at the end of January. 

The Defence SME Forum, chaired by Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew, gives SMEs an opportunity to share their views and experiences of working in defence. 

MOD at DPRTE 2019: Improving Industrial Engagement

Jim says: “It was a much richer conversation – the outputs were much clearer because undoubtedly this is something we are going to have to tackle together.” 

The forum, in conjunction with dialogue with trade associations and surveys, will be used to gain a greater understanding of the challenges SMEs face when doing business in the defence supply chain. 

The SME Champion programme is another endeavour where the Department hopes to achieve this ambition. 

Each of the 19 Strategic Suppliers has appointed an SME Champion to help change behaviours and share good practice to improve engagement with SMEs. 

Jim notes“This is a new approach to tackling this issue and encourages the primes, through these SME Champions, to be the conduit into the SME market and have plans and targets themselves around SME usage.” 

The MOD’s SME Action Plan credits the strategy for helping achieve one of the best response rates for the FY 2017/18 indirect spend survey, and actively supporting wider government work on SMEs led by the Cabinet Office. 

The programme received a positive response in the recent meeting of the Defence SME Forum.  

Jim explains: “We had a really successful DSF SME conference at the end of January with the Secretary of State for Defence and the Minister for Defence Procurement; having that inclusive approach with the SME Champions was really effective and we had great feedback in terms of that event.” 

Going forward, the MOD will continue to work with the SME Champions to improve access to opportunities for SMEs. 

Another tool being used to make it easier for innovators, SMEs and non-traditional suppliers to do business with defence is Defence Contracts Online (DCO). 

DCO is the official source of MOD contracts, providing a one-stop shop for information on contracting opportunities, market engagement events, support to innovation and exports. 

The online resource recently underwent a refresh that has increased the functionality of its supplier portal to enable suppliers to advertise supply chain opportunities and reach a wider audience. 

Feedback on the new functionality has so far been extremely positive with both Boeing and RollsRoyce recently signing up to the service. 

Speaking at DPRTE’s Supply Chain & Partnering Zone, Caroline Hose from the MOD’s Strategic Supplier Management Team said the DCO brand was well recognised in the industry, with Boeing in particular being very pleased with their experience. 

DCO’s new sub-contracting advertising facility will be a key element in the MOD achieving its target of 25% of direct and indirect spend going to SMEs by 2022. 

Jim explains: “Our supplier portal is a real gateway into our activity through DCO and we’re working with our major suppliers to encourage them to advertise their supply chain opportunities too.  

“We are absolutely committed to the target of 25% of spend with SMEs by 2022. That is why DCO is so important in that it highlights those opportunities deeper within the supply chain, because that figure won’t be achieved obviously with our direct procurement. 

Our analysis reveals supply chains of eleven or twelve tiers in some instances, so there are significant opportunities out there.” 

Collaboration, innovation and opportunity up for debate at DPRTE 2019

DPRTE may have drawn to a close but the event’s core themes of collaboration, innovation and opportunity remain some of the biggest talking points for 2019. In fact, away from the bustle of the Keynote Arena, many of the event’s most significant conversations were taking place in the numerous Knowledge Transfer Zones.

First up at the Technology & Innovation Zone, Andrew Cunningham – Executive Director for Innovation at the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC) – was on hand to explain the potential of cross-sector innovation from a defence perspective.

Having explored the UK defence innovation and S&T (science and technology) ecosystem, UKDSC discovered an opportunity to do things a little differently. “The principal focus was the opportunity to drive greater collaboration between government and industry,” said Andrew. “In particular, to create the business case for industry to co-invest in the innovation and S&T space.”

But if industry is to invest in science and technology there inevitably needs to be a return on investment. It’s a business-led perspective which runs contrary to the MOD’s own approach, where investments are made comparatively early and not necessarily with the same push to fully exploit the end product. For UKDSC it’s an untapped opportunity, and the centre is now attempting to marry the two complementary methods in an effort to foster innovation UK-wide.

BiP DPRTE 2019

The problem for industry, however, is that return on investment may seem an uneasy prospect if the MOD is the sole customer. For most investors, the risks associated with having a single (albeit large) client are considerable – more so when you consider the challenging nature of the science and technology space.

Instead, Andrew recommends that a business case be made to establish whether the customer base can be broadened beyond the MOD and possibly into the commercial realm. “If you can demonstrate that your innovation has applications cross-sectorally or internationally then you can build a business case for industry investment because you’re no longer dealing with a single customer.”

Through its Cross-Sector Innovation Initiative, UKDSC is developing two such projects, each relating to a specific sub-sector – autonomous subsea systems and high-altitude intelligence.

According to Andrew, the key here lies in “identifying the areas where multiple sectors are trying to achieve the same or very similar outcomes”. The commercial and defence objectives for autonomous subsea systems are very similar, for instance – namely longer range and greater endurance. We all want to be able to spend more time underwater, albeit for very different reasons.

While still in its early stages, the cross-sector model shows real promise for securing greater investment in innovation. Coincidently, these were themes Jim Pennycook, Innovation Partner at the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), also touched upon during his DPRTE seminar, entitled ‘Engaging with Innovation’.

For the uninitiated, DASA offers ‘serious challenges and serious funding’ to SMEs in order to attract the very best innovations into the UK defence and security sector. During his talk, Jim championed the concept of ‘exploitable innovation’ and made clear DASA’s commitment to investing in new technologies that deliver unique capabilities and provide the UK with a defence and security advantage.

To illustrate his point, he highlighted the Black Hornet Nano as a prime example of why the MOD should focus its attention on so-called ‘open innovation’. None of the components that make up the micro UAV were developed by the defence sector. Instead, much of the technology came from the mobile phone industry, with both the Black Hornet’s camera and battery stemming from investment in other fields.

“In realising this, MOD has established within DASA a route to attracting open innovation,” said Jim, “specifically from SMEs but also from areas of other markets to pull that innovation into defence.”

Through DASA, SMEs are able to have their innovations 100% funded and at rapid pace, typically within three weeks. DASA is also able to offer successful applicants assistance on how best to exploit their ideas – taking them from the initial concept to a place where exploitation is fully understood and commercialisation can begin. Essentially, Jim’s message was a call to action: if you have an innovation, DASA wants to hear from you.

Supply chain engagement was another obvious talking point at DPRTE 2019. Amid the many networking opportunities and the buzz of the Defence Procurement Pavilion, David Wharton – Head of Account Management at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) – took to the Supply Chain & Partnering Zone to discuss the service’s ongoing collaboration with the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).

With a potential £13 billion worth of spend slated to be pushed out through CCS frameworks over the next decade, it quickly became clear that DIO would need a dedicated account manager. It’s why the two organisations have entered into such close collaboration, embedding within each other’s teams to ensure these construction and facilities management frameworks are overseen effectively.

Here, communication is obviously essential. “At CCS we consider ourselves the leading procurer of FM solutions across central government,” said David, “and we’re transferring that commercial capability to DIO.”

Crucially, CCS also understands the importance of the UK supply chain. Despite being one of the largest commercial organisations in Europe, the service has pledged to procure 33% by value of all its business with SMEs, which complements DIO’s own approach to supply chain engagement. David’s was one of a handful of talks concerning SME opportunity. Only an hour earlier, Martin Lee – Programme Procurement Manager at Airbus Defence and Space – outlined similar opportunities for the country’s burgeoning space sector.

In light of last year’s ‘Prosperity from Space Strategy’, Airbus is keen to grow the UK space sector and engage with the SME community. After all, “that’s where a lot of the innovation will come from,” said Martin. “We want to build that community fivefold from what it is today.” In fact, it’s thought that the number of high-tech space sector jobs will rise by an estimated 30,000 by 2030.

“For me, one of the key areas is how do we bring in non-traditional space sector suppliers – those with new ideas and differing business models,” continued Martin. “Because if we’re going to grow the space sector we’re also going to have to be competitive and we have to look at the competitiveness of the UK globally.”

Here, large-scale projects – such as the Government’s potential alternative to the EU’s Galileo global navigation satellite system (GNSS) – will have a pivotal role to play in developing the capabilities of the sector. According to Martin, if the UK GNSS was to go ahead it would be a “great opportunity for UK Plc to really take part in the space sector”, bringing with it massive opportunities for SMEs all over the country.

Finally, returning to the Technology & Innovation Zone, Stuart Young – Head of the Centre for Defence Acquisition at Cranfield University – closed out the event with a fascinating talk on artificial intelligence, its impact on defence procurement and the challenges associated with AI adoption.

In the defence sector, artificial intelligence applies to anything from collaborative robotics and autonomous vehicles to computer vision and image recognition technology. But what the sector has yet to see is that long-term paradigm shift where artificial intelligence is integrated as a matter of course. One of the biggest reasons behind this is the industry’s apparent lack of appropriate skills. “If we don’t understand AI,” said Stuart, “and we haven’t got people with the right skills to identify its applications, we’re not going to be using it effectively.”

In fact, the effective use of AI will require nothing less than a cultural sea change. According to Stuart, the defence sector works in ‘functional stovepipes’, but this siloed approach negates some of the most significant benefits of AI and big data – namely the ability of systems to ‘talk’ to each other.

Along with best practice, infrastructure will also have to adapt. Warehouses may have to be reconfigured to accommodate different docking arrangements and entrance designs in support of autonomous vehicles, for instance. And inevitably, as a result of AI, “some jobs will be lost, some will be gained and many more will have to change”.

But how long will it be before that long-term paradigm shift actually arrives? “I personally think it’s quite a long way off,” answered Stuart. “One reason being the level of investment required; the other being the human trust and ethical issues coming to the fore at the moment. There’s a lot of confidence and trust to be built up so I think a 15-20-year timescale is probably about right.”

It may seem a long way off then, but the UK defence sector must move quickly if it is to remain at the forefront of the artificial intelligence space. All of which is why DPRTE is so important. No event in the defence calendar brings buyers and suppliers together and asks them to engage in the sort of meaningful conversations described here. For the UK defence supply chain, 2019 is a time of immense opportunity. Perhaps we’ll see what progress has been made at DPRTE 2020.

DPRTE 2019: New venue, new opportunities as the defence community comes together in Farnborough

The new venue brought a sense of excitement as representatives from the Ministry of Defence and other public bodies, preferred contractors, the supply chain and academia came together at this one-day event.

Billed as the defence procurement event of the year, DPRTE 2019 provided a unique opportunity to showcase goods and services as well as the chance to engage directly with both the key personnel and organisations responsible for setting strategy and operationally delivering an annual budget of over £20 billion.

DPRTE 2019 attracted record numbers as over 1500 visitors came to Farnborough to hear from the leading and most influential speakers from across the defence procurement and supply chain marketplace.

The event provided a real focus on the key themes dominating the defence and security supply chain – innovation and improved supplier engagement.

Keynote Arena

The Live Keynote Arena was, as ever, a huge draw for attendees.

A familiar face at DPRTE, former Ministry of Defence Commercial Director Les Mosco, chaired proceedings, calling for greater clarity for the defence industry.

Jim Carter, Commercial Director, Supply Chain at MOD, delivered the opening keynote address. speaking about how the Department was progressing with its strategy to improve its industrial engagement and previewing its new SME Action Plan. This included a look at the Strategic Partnering Programme, which seeks to improve MOD’s commercial relationships across all aspects of the supply chain, beginning with its prime contractors.

He then provided an update on the recently refreshed Defence Suppliers Forum (DSF) and outlined the role of the ‘SME Champions’, appointed by the Department’s 19 Strategic Suppliers, who will offer guidance and support to help SMEs find an easier route to market.

Jim explained: “What we are doing is encouraging the Primes through these SME Champions to be the conduit into the SME market and have plans and targets themselves around SME usage.”

DPRTE 2019: New venue, new opportunities as the defence community comes together in Farnborough

Dr Lucy Mason, Head of the Defence and Security Accelerator, provided an overview of DASA’s role in harnessing innovation for defence and was able to share a number of the Accelerator’s successes over the past year.

These included DASA’s largest contract award to date to Blue Bear Systems for its response to the ‘Many Drones Make Light Work’ competition; and the new app from KrowdThink, which allows users to report suspicious activity or potential security threats at crowded events.

Dr Mason also encouraged any SMEs with innovative ideas to reach out to DASA’s regional Innovation Partners who can offer guidance on how their ideas could be best exploited.

She said: “I think government these days wants to work much more with SMEs, to incorporate them into supply chains and understand how we can diversify the range of suppliers that get involved. That means helping big businesses to encourage SMEs to work as part of their supply chains as well as meeting our own target to procure from SMEs.”

Defence Infrastructure Organisation Commercial Director Jacqui Rock gave a progress update on DIO’s mission to turn its statement of intentions in its Commercial Strategy into a practical commercial transformation.

She also outlined the vast opportunities available to the supply chain through the Defence Estate Optimisation Programme.

Jacqui told the audience: “The opportunities for suppliers to get involved on the DEO Programme are vast. It touches construction, disposals, new builds, family accommodations – it touches everything.”

Professor Trevor Taylor from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) then delivered a thought-provoking talk on the role of artificial intelligence within defence acquisition.

He examined the perception of AI and its potential functions within the defence framework and how the technology’s capability was dependent on data.

Professor Taylor commented: “Always think about AI in terms of the data available. Do we have the data? If the data isn’t available, AI doesn’t work.

“What AI brings, initially at least, is this area of identification, diagnosis and analysis, which it will offer with likelihood and probability. That is very important when you think of it in a defence context.”

Following Professor Taylor, Tracy Buckingham, Head of Operations and Security Exports at the Department for International Trade’s Defence & Security Organisation, spoke about the role of DIT DSO and the importance of defence and security exports in terms of the economy, providing countries with the right to a defensive capability, and enhancing overseas engagement.

The UK defence and security export market is worth £13.8 billion, with a massive 87% of the UK’s defence exports to be found in the aerospace domain.

Tracy also explained how DIT DSO plays a crucial role in the MOD’s drive for innovation. She noted: “We have a proud tradition of innovation and we are a key part in identifying potential pipelines and export markets for those innovative products.”

Jason Fox, best known for his role on hit TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins, ensured the last address at the Keynote Arena was standing room only as he gave his thoughts on motivation and leadership, sharing his experiences of undertaking high-risk missions whilst serving in the Armed Forces.

Knowledge Transfer Zones

DPRTE 2019 hosted five Knowledge Transfer Zones, each featuring a range of educational sessions that allowed attendees to discover and share ideas for the five themes.

With innovation continuing to be a major driver in the defence industry it was no surprise to see the Technology & Innovation Zone attract a large number of visitors.

Andrew Cunningham, Executive Director for Innovation at the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), kicked off proceedings with a talk on the potential of cross-sector innovation from a defence perspective.

Other highlights included DASA Innovation Partner Jim Pennycook’s session on engaging with innovation, where he outlined the advantages for innovative companies working with DASA.

The Supply Chain & Partnering Zone was another hotspot for the event as attendees sought information on how they could engage and actively pursue new business development opportunities across the wider supply chain.

This included a demonstration from Caroline Hose from the MOD’s Strategic Supplier Management Team on the new sub-contracting function on Defence Contracts Online (DCO) – the MOD’s online portal for sharing information on contracting opportunities and market engagement events.

DPRTE 2019: New venue, new opportunities as the defence community comes together in Farnborough

David Wharton, Head of Account Management at the Crown Commercial Service, also explained CCS’s collaboration with DIO and how this would help DIO push out frameworks worth over a potential £13 billion over the next ten years.

The Buyer Excellence in Procurement Zone saw the Procurement Advice and Support Service (PASS) put on a series of 30-minute interactive sessions delivered by Principal Consultant, Eddie Regan. Elsewhere, the Export & Business Growth Zone allowed UK SMEs to learn more about exporting opportunities and the practical assistance available from DIT DSO.

Finally, the Doing Business with the US DoD Zone saw representatives from the Department of Defense provide advice and guidance on how to access the wealth of opportunities available within the world’s largest defence procurement marketplace.

Andrew Wilson, President of JGW International, had this advice for companies looking to break into the lucrative US defence marketplace – and again, innovation was key.

He said: “The real issue for British companies is that they need to find a technology that is lacking in the States. It’s got to be a unique product and be a capability that the US military needs.”

The event also featured seven Networking & Collaboration Zones  Supply Chain Engagement, Defence Procurement Pavilion, Innovation, Defence Market Engagement, International Exporting, US DoD Engagement and the Product Showcase Exhibition – which provided a wealth of opportunities for attendees to meet and discuss buyer and supplier opportunities.

The Defence Procurement Pavilion was a constant hive of activity as attendees took the opportunity to speak with representatives from the Army, Air and Navy Commercial Teams as well as those from DE&S, DIO, the Submarine Delivery Agency, MOD ISS and Doing Business with Defence.

The Product Showcase Exhibition provided a platform for around 120 organisations from the public and private sectors to promote their products and services directly to key decision makers in the defence market.

What surprised many of those who hadn’t attended the event before was the vast range of sectors represented, including IT; portable buildings; clothing; haulage and logistics; digital modelling; environmental services; and fire safety.

Gavin Shepherd from Commerce Decisions commented: “DPRTE brings together a whole community of buyers and bidders to enable them to network and look for better solutions to the problems that the marketplace poses.”

Companies such as Meile, who were demonstrating the important role laundry plays in the defence sector, were delighted with the early engagement opportunities DPRTE afforded them.

Jessica Tobias-George from Meile explained: “It’s really important for us as an organisation to engage with our potential buyers early on in the process. It’s good to speak to them and find out what their requirements are so that we can proactively respond to those requirements.

“It’s been a really good event for us to meet people and find out more about the sector and potentially follow up with those enquiries.”

The event continues to surpass itself every year and plans are already under way for DPRTE 2020, which will again take place in Farnborough on 1 April next year.

To discuss booking your 2020 exhibition or sponsorship package, call 0845 270 7066 or email

NS&RC: Combining surveillance expertise with explainable AI yields actionable intelligence

In this feature John Baker, Head of Global Operations for the National Security & Resilience Consortium, Gary Cahalane of Intelligent Voice Ltd, Jools Lloyd of Covert Matters Ltd and Charles Julian of Casini Systems examine Covert Surveillance and its application in the context of commercial, business and government activity.

In an English tavern in the 1580s, a group of men conspired to assassinate the head of state, Queen Elizabeth the First. The head of the operation, Anthony Babington, planned to rescue and crown Mary of Scotland, an alternative heir to the English throne who had been imprisoned in a castle dungeon for 20 years. He detailed the plan to Mary through a cipher – a secret note in code – covertly smuggled to her in a consignment of beer. Mary had no idea that his note had been opened and then resealed by a double agent posing as a courier. When Mary wrote back, the agent exposed the plot, and both she and Babington were executed.

Long before MI5, MI6 and GCHQ surveillance, Queen Elizabeth had her own ‘Watchers’, a network of agents who intercepted letters, cracked codes and captured possible dissenters to protect the crown, all in secret. The Queen’s network of spies formed the national security effort that heralded a centuries-long tradition of British espionage.

One of her most experienced spies was John Dee, who when spying abroad signed each private letter to the Queen with the insignia 007, later to be borrowed by James Bond writer Ian Fleming.

Covert surveillance

Surveillance is covert if it’s done in a way that tries to ensure the subject is unaware it is, or could be, taking place. Covert surveillance is divided into two categories, both of which are subject to the Covert Surveillance and Property Interference Code of Practice.

Directed surveillance

Directed surveillance operations involve the covert monitoring of targets’ movements, conversations and other activities.

All of MI5’s directed surveillance operations are subject to an internal authorisation system, which is required by Part II of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). These operations also run in line with the Covert Surveillance and Property Interference Code of Practice.

This work is carried out by highly skilled specialist surveillance officers who may work in vehicles, on foot or from fixed observation posts.

Intrusive surveillance

Intrusive surveillance involves the covert monitoring of targets, using an eavesdropping device for example, on residential premises or within a private vehicle. Due to the invasive nature of such methods, their use is subject to a strict control and oversight regime.

To install an eavesdropping device in a target’s home, for example, an application to the Home Secretary for a warrant under Part II of RIPA is required to authorise the intrusion on the privacy of the target.

In most cases it is also necessary apply for a property warrant under the Intelligence Services Act 1994 to authorise any interference with the target’s property that is necessary to install the device covertly. The Secretary of State must be convinced that what is being proposed is both necessary and proportionate.

The rules for using surveillance techniques or interfering with property are explained in the Code of Practice on Covert Surveillance. However, unlike interception, the product from an eavesdropping attack can be used in court as evidence.

Use of warrants authorising intrusive surveillance is monitored by the Intelligence Services Commissioner, who produces an annual report on their findings.

NS&RC Combining surveillance expertise with explainable AI yields actionable intelligence 1

In espionage and counter intelligence, surveillance is the monitoring of behaviour, activities or other changing information for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing or protecting people. This can include observation from a distance by means of big data, electronic equipment such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, or interception of electronically transmitted information such as internet traffic or phone calls. It can also include simple no- or relatively low-technology methods such as human intelligence agents and postal interception.

Commercial recognition of these surveillance approaches is creating an unprecedented opportunity for highly specialised companies.

Covert Matters Ltd brings unrivalled knowledge and experience from UK law enforcement into the commercial world. Their consultants, operatives and trainers (exclusively former New Scotland Yard detectives) have years of experience in literally thousands of Metropolitan Police covert policing operations, both proactive and reactive.

“Our core business of covert surveillance, in varied forms, delivers business intelligence solutions to companies by employing proven covert methods which lead to a professional intelligence and/or evidential package, thereby enabling the client to either realise or make a quantum leap forward in their objective,” says MD Jools Lloyd. “In the long term this will invariably be a huge benefit to the company, preventing major financial loss or reputational damage.” 

He continues: “We also use our professional skills across the board to train, raise awareness, mitigate or deal with the threat of Terrorism (including Suicide Terrorism), Kidnap & Ransom and Serious & Organised Crime, supporting governments, businesses, employees and private individuals.”

The growth of the internet and sophisticated personal communication and data storage systems have transformed the space within which covert surveillance must now operate.

Greater access to and understanding of Big Data has presented an opportunity and, in some cases, extreme risk. It has demanded a fundamental rethink of many embedded practices and procedures across the intelligence-led battlespace, from military, governmental and commercial perspectives.

“Never before has it been so imperative to be the first to understand and the first to exploit,” says Gary Cahalane of Intelligent Voice Ltd. “Mastery of these capabilities allows both military and government more broadly to deploy effect with more agility and a greater certainty of success, while minimising political or collateral damage.

“Artificial Intelligence is leading the way in enabling these capabilities, learning and then identifying the patterns in human behaviours and interactions that translate into threat. By aligning historical data with subsequent outcomes, such as whether a terrorist threat materialised or not, we deliver a bias-free appraisal of human communications, specific to that context. Intelligent Voice’s unique combination of Automatic Speech Recognition and Explainable AI transforms unstructured data from voice interactions into actionable intelligence.”

In an overview such as this feature, presenting the current extent of covert surveillance is inevitably limited; however, there were around 350 million surveillance cameras worldwide as of 2016, of which approximately 65% were installed in Asia. In the United Kingdom, the vast majority of video surveillance cameras are not operated by government bodies, but by private individuals or companies.

However, as part of China’s ‘Golden Shield Project’, several US corporations, including IBM, General Electric and Honeywell, have been working closely with the Chinese government to install millions of surveillance cameras throughout China, along with advanced video analytics and facial recognition software, which will identify and track individuals everywhere they go. They will be connected to a centralised database and monitoring station, which will, upon completion of the project, contain a picture of the face of every person in China: over 1.3 billion people.

George Orwell’s dystopian presentation of the world may be closer than we think…

DASA: Driving innovation in defence and security

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) exists to help government access innovative ideas, equipment and services more quickly for UK security and military users in order to help maintain security and military advantage over our adversaries, to protect people and ultimately to save lives.  

DASA went live in December 2016, evolving from the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), and was given the remit to help government defence and security departments collaborate with industry, academia and allies to rapidly develop innovative solutions to the most pressing national defence and security challenges. 

Dr Lucy Mason, Head of DASA, was appointed in March 2017, having previously worked at the Home Office, leading the science and technology (S&T) and private sector engagement work strands as part of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy. 

Approaching her second anniversary of her appointment, Dr Mason is clear on the role of DASA. She explains: “The Defence and Security Accelerator aims to help us keep up and get ahead of the challenges we are facing. We need to spot opportunities and make best use of them as quickly as possible, drawing on the UK’s world-class academic and research sectors and on the expertise of the private sector.” 

DASA Driving innovation in defence and security 3

Dr Mason believes that the ever-evolving threats the UK faces means that governments must face up to new challenges and find ways to respond to them quickly. 

“Governments must get used to operating in a very fast-paced, uncertain environment, where threats may emerge from unexpected places and where a state often does not have the levers or remit needed to act. This means becoming better at spotting possible security threats and opportunities and being more agile in responding quickly to them, while bearing in mind the need for proper consideration, safeguards and the appropriate legal and ethical frameworks,” says Dr Mason. 

However, she is aware of the vital role that the private sector has to play in this process: “We need the private sector – including companies not traditionally associated with defence and security – and academics to better understand the kind of trends and problems we are facing.” 

DASA recently published its 2018 annual report outlining the progress the organisation has made in driving innovative solutions to the UK’s most pressing defence and security challenges. The report highlighted the organisation’s successes in building a ‘thriving innovation ecosystem’ by developing partnerships with defence and security innovation groups. 

Last May DASA launched an Open Call for Innovation, receiving 200 proposals; it has funded 28 projects in all since April 2017, totalling £2.36 million. 

Through the creation of the Open Call for Innovation, the organisation has provided an avenue for anyone with a good idea to submit it, at any time. The proposals are assessed by technical experts from across defence and security, against a set of predefined criteria which may lead to a decision to fund. 

In January 2018, DASA launched a new ‘twin track’ approach. The first track is open to potential innovations at an early stage of development while the second track seeks rapid-impact innovations, which must have an impact within three years. 

Great strides were also made with the launch of the first Defence Innovation Challenge, ‘Revolutionise the human information relationship for Defence’, funding 33 proposals worth £3.05 million in phase 1 and proposals worth £862,000 in phase 2. 

The second Defence Innovation Challenge, ‘Defence People’, followed in March 2018, aiming to engage a range of SMEs and MOD stakeholders and gain insight into the marketplace. 

DASA has also launched a series of competitions such as Finding Hidden Explosives in Electrical Items; Regenerative Medicine at the Front Line; Autonomous Last Mile Resupply; and Autonomous Hazardous Scene Assessment – all seeking to find innovative solutions. 

An example of DASA’s success can be seen in the development of ‘acoustic yarn’. Funded by Dstl through the Open Call for Innovation, Nottingham Trent University developed acoustic yarn in response to the specific risks to hearing that members of the military are often exposed to. This work created a textile noise sensor, or dosemeter, for military use. 

Overexposure to noise is known to cause permanent hearing damage; as a result, employers are required to implement suitable health monitoring measures when workers will be exposed to loud noises. A noise dosemeter is the most reliable way to determine a worker’s noise exposure, but commercially available solutions are not suitable for military use. An innovative helmet cover made of acoustic yarn means that the sensor does not interfere with kit or with the operational effectiveness of troops. 

Another noteworthy accomplishment came with the development of the combat tourniquet by researchers at the University of Strathclyde.  

Created in response to the experiences of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where improvised explosive devices caused traumatic injury, this three-stage approach is a brand-new technique that brings together kit that can be used in the field with highly specialised solutions once the patient has been evacuated to a hospital. The combat tourniquet applies pressure to the limb at different points, reducing damage to specific areas.  

A cooling ‘sock’ is then wrapped around the tissue to preserve it from further damage until the casualty can be evacuated to a care facility. At the hospital, the limb is then placed inside a protective ‘box’ which can sustain the area while doctors attempt repairs. The box contains specially decontaminated air to reduce infection, and continually supplies the affected area with blood. 

Following successful trials, the system is set to be available commercially, and could one day form part of the medical kit in every frontline unit. 

DASA is looking to continue its evolution with a number of new initiatives for 2019. These include the introduction of a cloud-based service to manage opportunities and calls for innovation, and the process of managing, tracking and collaborating on them. 

Efforts will continue not only to make DASA more accessible but also to expand its reach by working closely with the best organisations across the world, including those from Australia, Canada and the United States. 

The organisation also plans to work even more closely with the likes of Innovate UK, UK Research and Innovation and The Royal Society and broker new partnerships with organisations and trade bodies across the public and private sectors to create the best possible ecosystem for innovation. 

Dr Mason explains: “I’m proud of what we’ve achieved, together, and thank everyone who’s helped us and supported us during our first year. As we move forwards, we’ll continue to try new ideas, pilot new ways of doing things and learn as we go. 

“We’ll keep improving and we’ll keep working hard. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds.”