Extra funding for service charities as veterans’ support is increased

The Office for Veterans’ Affairs (OVA) and the MOD have announced that 100 Armed Forces charities will benefit from nearly £6 million of extra funding to support serving personnel, veterans and their families during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is part of a package of support announced by the Chancellor in April to ensure charities can continue their vital work during the pandemic.

The charities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that are benefitting from this funding range from smaller local charities to bigger, more well-known names.

The charities provide support to veterans and serving personnel in a range of different areas, including employment, mental health and wellbeing, physical health, and recovery and support for service families.

As part of the government’s commitment to supporting service personnel throughout their military and civilian lives, next month a consultation will also be launched on employers paying no National Insurance contributions on the salary of any veteran they take on during their first year of civilian employment.

This delivers on the government’s manifesto commitment to encourage businesses to further utilise the immense skills and experience that veterans can bring to businesses.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said: “Today we mark and give thanks to our veterans for the outstanding service which they have given to this country. To show our appreciation we’re advancing veterans issues across government, through the Office for Veterans’ Affairs. I’m delighted as well to confirm extra funding for service charities to help them through the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “If it wasn’t for the brave servicemen and women who serve and protect our country, we would not have a United Kingdom to call our home.

“That’s why we must continue to do everything we can to support our veterans through these challenging times.”

Under the plans announced in this year’s Budget, an employer taking on a veteran earning £25k will save around £2,000 in NICs.

Employers currently pay Employers’ National Insurance contributions of 13.8% of the employee’s salary. Under this measure, they will be able to save this cost on an employee’s salary up to the Upper Earnings Limit (£50,000).

Recently the OVA announced the launch of a study to look at whether COVID-19 has had any specific impact on the veteran community in the UK. This in turn will allow policy makers in government to understand potential issues affecting veterans and respond accordingly based on expert advice and evidence.

The OVA, which was created last year, is ensuring that the whole of government is delivering better outcomes for veterans, particularly in areas such as mental health, employment and housing. It is working in partnership with government departments, the Devolved Administrations and charities to coordinate activity across the United Kingdom.

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RAF flights to take UK aid-funded supplies to Africa to tackle coronavirus

The first of a series of Royal Air Force flights taking medical supplies to Africa to help fight the coronavirus pandemic departed at the weekend.

The RAF C-17 took off from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire on a journey funded by the Department For International Development. The transport aircraft was carrying a field hospital, which will be used as a backup facility for frontline aid workers in the region. Aid workers from around the world are playing a crucial role in West Africa working to improve health systems, prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

It comes after the UK responded to a request by the United Nations (UN) to NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. The UN is leading global logistics efforts to make sure medical supplies reach those who need them most during the pandemic.

With commercial flights disrupted and the cost of cargo flights having escalated, the UK’s support is crucial.

The UK-aid funded field hospital has been organised by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and will have the capacity to care for up to 92 people.

The UK has previously announced £15 million of support to the WFP to support its coronavirus response.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This field hospital will play an important role in the global battle against coronavirus.

“Aid workers are on the frontline of the coronavirus response, and it is critical they are protected so they can continue their life-saving work.

“This is the best of British – the UK military and UK aid – working together to solve a global problem for the benefit of all of us. No one is safe until we are all safe.”

The field hospital, which weighs approximately 130 tonnes, the equivalent of seven buses, will be transported to Accra in up to five flights. It will then be built to support the coronavirus response where the need is greatest.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The RAF and NATO are always here to help our Allies, friends and those in need around the world. I’m proud that while dealing with coronavirus we are able to provide such support to Ghana and other countries.”

The World Food Programme’s Executive Director, David Beasley, said: “WFP is incredibly grateful for this support from the UK Government in transporting essential humanitarian infrastructure and medical supplies to Africa. Commercial transport is massively disrupted.

“This kind of action allows humanitarian and health staff to stay and deliver at their duty stations on the frontline to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

image © MOD Crown Copyright

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Dstl release research on stability of COVID-19 in the air

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has published a research paper on the stability of the COVID-19 virus in the air through the Emerging Microbes and Infections journal.

The paper “Experimental aerosol survival of SARS-CoV-2 in artificial saliva and tissue culture media at medium and high humidity”, written by a team of Dstl scientists, outlines the research completed on the stability of the COVID-19 virus in the air. It also supports the scientific advice provided to the Government on COVID-19 control measures.

The findings indicate that the COVID-19 virus may remain viable in the dark for at least 90 minutes under certain conditions, if produced within small-particle aerosols. These findings provide direct, corroborating evidence that will help inform how the virus behaves within healthcare environments.

Coughing and sneezing generally produce large particles of saliva, but smaller particles will also be produced. Small particles are also produced during routine activities such as talking and breathing. Smaller aerosol particles may be of concern because they may stay buoyant in the air for longer, travel further and be able to penetrate further into the respiratory tract when inhaled.

Dstl, the science inside UK national security, has used its capability to investigate the generation of virus-containing particles to study the survival of the virus under different conditions. The research paper has also been shared with the Science Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and can be viewed here.

Tim Atkins, OBE and Senior Scientist at Dstl said: “These scientific findings will contribute to international scientific understanding of the virus, and therefore help to resolve this global crisis. The more scientific research undertaken across the world the more enriched the understanding of how Coronavirus behaves. This will be critical moving forward to ensuring we give the best advice to people on how to stay safe.”

Aerojet Rocketdyne hits milestone on THAAD weapon system

Aerojet Rocketdyne has delivered the 600th Boost Motor and the 600th Divert and Attitude Control System (DACS) for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system, one of the United States’ primary defences against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles.

A land-based element of the Missile Defense Agency’s Missile Defense system, built by prime contractor Lockheed Martin, THAAD shields deployed US and allied forces and critical infrastructure from missile attacks. The system has a 100% success rate in intercept tests – 16 intercepts in 16 tests – since production began.

The THAAD solid rocket boost motor is now manufactured at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s rapidly growing facilities in Huntsville, Alabama and Camden, Arkansas. The DACS, a highly-responsive thruster system that keeps THAAD’s kinetic kill vehicle on target during the latter stages of an intercept, is manufactured in the company’s Los Angeles, California facility.

Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president, said: “I am proud of our team’s vital role on this important program. Over the past two years they have successfully transferred production from our Sacramento, California site, supported the Missile Defense Agency’s successful THAAD flight test, and delivered the 600th Boost Motor and 600th Divert and Attitude Control System.”

image Copyright © 2020 BAE Systems

GD Electric Boat wins modification For Columbia-class submarines

The US Navy have announced that General Dynamics Electric Boat has been awarded a contract modification for the design completion, engineering work and design support efforts for the Columbia Class of Ballistic Missile Submarines.

An option valued at $9.47 billion supporting the construction of the first two ships of the Columbia class is established as part of this modification. Electric Boat is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics.

Electric Boat is the prime contractor on the design and construction of 12-ship Columbia class, which will replace the ageing Ohio class of ballistic missile submarines. Electric Boat will manage numerous vendors and suppliers to do this work. Advanced construction began in 2017 at the company’s facility in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Final assembly and test of the Columbia class will take place starting in 2024 at Electric Boat’s shipyard in Groton.

General Dynamics is investing $1.8 billion in capital expenditures to construct and expand its facilities to support the construction of the Columbia class, the world’s most advanced strategic missile submarine. The company’s three primary locations are in Groton and New London, Conn.; and Quonset Point, R.I. Its current workforce is more than 16,000 employees.

General Dynamics Electric Boat president Kevin Graney, commented: “The shipbuilders of Electric Boat recognise the responsibility and welcome the opportunity to deliver the Columbia class. Columbia is our nation’s top strategic defence priority and, as the prime contractor, we will provide the safest and most capable class of submarines in the defence of our nation.

“As we move toward full scale construction later this year, Columbia’s design is more advanced than that of any previous submarine program.

“We stand ready to execute on this critical program and have made extensive preparations by hiring and training the next generation of skilled shipbuilders, expanding and modernising our facilities and strengthening our supply base.”

image courtesy of US Navy


Harnessing the power of technology in the fight against Covid-19

Writing for Defence Online, Martin Cronin, CEO, Patriot One, examines how technology can play a significant role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

For decades, the nature of global safety has been evolving. From security threats like large-scale terrorist attacks to lone actor stabbings, new challenges are constantly arising. The threat detection industry, in turn, endeavours to respond to these challenges with defensive strategies of equal strength. The Covid-19 pandemic is no different.

Although the assailant may be invisible, it has wrought much destruction. Stemming the spread of Covid-19 is now a priority for every government, business and individual around the world. Now, more than ever, governments must work hand in hand with technology providers that have the expertise to tackle these new, invisible global threats.

Part of this is utilising existing technology to build solutions that can help manage the spread of the virus. The incorporation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into existing technology that monitors environments, such as security cameras, is one of the solutions being explored.

The frontline threat

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that, to date, the highest death rate from Covid-19 is among male security guards, with 45.7 deaths per 100,000. While there are likely a number of factors that contribute to this statistic it raises the question: What can be done to keep these people safe at work?

Traditionally, the key purpose of security systems has been to detect and intercept physical and cyber threats before an attack is launched, including the detection of visible and hidden weapons, identification of abnormal behaviour and data security breaches. While this will, of course, remain a primary focus, security systems must now adapt to defend against these new viral and contagious threats. Specifically, against microbiological threats such as Covid-19.

Technology has already dramatically improved the effectiveness of today’s physical security solutions. Systems with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning functionality at their core can be deployed to efficiently roll out newly developed algorithms, so new threats can start to be detected immediately.

AI in action

AI and machine learning technologies can be applied to stem the spread of Covid-19. Using AI-powered video analytic software, common thermal and digital video cameras can be enhanced into remote video health screening tools, with capabilities including:


  • Elevated body temperature screening: Individuals are scanned by thermal cameras with AI functionality for elevated body temperature when entering a building. In the case of a temperature outside a nominal range, an alert is transmitted to onsite security for further action. The benefits of this would be seen especially in locations such as care homes and offices, or indeed any venue that needed to quickly screen individuals or a queue of people entering a facility in a controlled checkpoint environment.
  • Face mask compliance detection: Security personnel are alerted when people are not complying with face mask requirements through the use of AI and digital camera networks. Although regulation around face masks currently differs across the globe, it is widely accepted that masks assist in preventing the spread of viral pathogens. This technology would be particularly useful in environments such as hospitals, retail facilities and schools, where members of the public gather in an enclosed space.
  • Social distancing and large gatherings: Data captured by digital cameras, using AI algorithms, can detect how close people are to one another. If they are not complying with government guidelines, an automated message could be activated to remind them to distance. Similarly, they can detect large groups of people who may be interacting in close proximity and therefore increasing the possibility of multiple infections, prompting an automated response or police intervention if required.


Computer vision technology has existed for over a decade. Now, with the power of real-time AI software that is integrated with current video management systems, threats can be identified for immediate response. This is done in a non-intrusive way that does not disrupt people’s day to day lives or invade their personal space and privacy.

Security personnel still have an important role to play, but it is a role that is less laden with risk. These security staff should receive training to support them to work alongside these new AI-driven technologies, including guidance on policies, procedures and how to respond to threats. From a safe distance, they will be able to tell instantly where threats lie and where action needs to be taken. As well as keeping themselves safe, they are empowered with the information needed to protect others from harm.

Critically, it is a tool that could help to slow the spread of Covid-19. Early detection of viruses and contagions at outbreak and epidemic stages could help control infection rates, stopping them before they morph into global pandemics and endemics. This will lessen the burden on healthcare services and ensure individuals with symptoms are made aware.

From conception to implementation

To be most effective, these types of AI-driven technologies must be embedded into national security policies and become an integral pillar of security training programmes. Security experts should work with decision makers to arm them with a comprehensive understanding of how to best implement and integrate these technologies.

It doesn’t stop there. As these new security technologies continue to develop, so will their capabilities. In time, we should expect to see the emergence of security systems that can identify people exhibiting physical signs of illness, such as coughing and sneezing and can also contact trace infected individuals.

Looking to the future

From healthcare, business and government, to education, hospitality and retail, these types of security solutions will be key to enabling society and the economy to safely return to some form of functioning normality over the coming months and years.

As we look ahead to the future of public security in a world impacted by Covid-19, it’s clear that new technologies, specifically AI, have a role to play in making our communities safe. But technology alone can only go so far.

To ensure the safety of public and private spaces, we need people, new technology platforms, policies and procedures to work in harmony on a global scale. Learnings and successes must be shared. Technological innovations deployed rapidly and at scale.

Collaboration has proved integral to winning many battles in the past. Only with collaboration will we see the full potential of smart, innovative solutions that will transform security systems to defend against the current threat and future risks we will face.

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iMAST Alliance – Transforming Royal Navy Training, for Royal Navy people

An industry and academic alliance is gearing up to make the world’s most renowned naval training, even better.

The iMAST Alliance, a collaboration of three leading UK Maritime defence companies Babcock, QinetiQ and Thales together with technology partners Centerprise International, Learning Technologies Group and academic Institutions, University of Portsmouth and University of Strathclyde, has recently signed an Alliance Agreement, bringing together their deep and collective strength of capabilities to deliver a training transformation solution that they believe will modernise and transform Royal Navy training.

The Alliance is further boosted by an Ecosystem of more than 50 niche enterprises, who will seek and explore innovation in learning technologies, delivering opportunities and benefits across the UK supply chain.

The contract will be awarded following a competitive tendering process run by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and will see the successful bidder partner with their customer to transform Royal Navy training. Down selected to bid in 2019, the iMAST team is finalising its approach with final tender submissions due in summer 2020.

The iMAST vision is simple – working in true partnership with the customer to transform and modernise Royal Navy training in innovative ways that will deliver more, better trained Royal Navy people to the front line quicker.

iMAST lead contractor, Babcock, is currently responsible for around 70% of the outsourced Royal Navy training programme and this new collaborative Alliance squarely underpins its ongoing commitment to the Strategic Partner Programme with the MOD and Cabinet Office, which means iMAST is in an excellent position to provide a solid surety of delivery throughout the transformation period.

Mark Graves Managing Director of iMAST Alliance, commented: “iMAST’s approach is focussed on building on our unique and deep affinity with Royal Navy Training and consolidates the capabilities of a game-changing Alliance that can deliver cutting-edge, flexible and accessible technology to truly modernise the training experience of RN people and ensure they reach the front line quicker and equipped with the skills and competence they need.

“Across our joint team we have strong and collaborative relationships with the armed forces, built over decades and share many of the same values and behaviours, often working as one team to a single joint plan. Therefore, iMAST represents the lowest risk, high reward solution to transition – delivered at pace.”

In addition to the provision of training, the winning bidder will also be responsible for designing, procuring and managing the maintenance and repair of all associated training equipment. This includes support for the delivery and procurement of the interior design, fit out and relocation to a new purpose built facility for submarine training based on the Clyde, helping to create a submarine centre of excellence.

iMAST is committed to the future of Royal Navy training – and is ready for the challenge.

image © MOD Crown Copyright

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ERP software is in the midst of the ultimate stress test – how are A&D manufacturers faring?

Writing for Defence Online, Matt Medley, Senior Product Manager at IFS, examines how aerospace and defence companies’ ERP software is coping with the coronavirus pandemic.

The nature of the aerospace and defence (A&D) industry means manufacturers must be prepared to shift business priorities, capitalise on new technology opportunities and react immediately to market events or regulatory changes. These can be opportunistic and planned, such as moving toward servitisation to unlock aftermarket revenue or onboarding new technology to revolutionise factory operations, but they can also come from external sources at a moment’s notice.

Take the market pressures from the COVID-19 crisis, which is decimating supply and demand, and spawning regulatory mandates such as the US Government invoking the Defense Production Act. There are already some leading trend-setters in A&D manufacturing—witness CAE Inc. shifting its focus from manufacturing flight simulation systems to developing an easy-to-build ventilator to help combat the crisis in Canada.

But all too often, manufacturers find opportunities hampered by legacy software systems, or a software supplier who wants them to follow a particular development route. In a recent Accenture survey of UK CIOs, 53% said their current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system was inflexible and they wanted to extend it using intelligent technology.

With this in mind, here are four key ERP ‘stress tests’ A&D manufacturers must consider when transforming their business operations.

1. Industry-specificity and configuration control is vital A single platform developed to appeal to an array of industries may well work for operations including finance, HR and payroll. But running A&D manufacturing operations isn’t the same as managing daily retail business processes.

Far too regularly, A&D manufacturers set out on an implementation strategy and discover costly and complex customisations must be made to their software infrastructure to accommodate critical processes including precision part engineering and intensive quality control. A&D manufacturers need assurance that their systems infrastructure supports the current and future business needs of their industry—rather than dance to the tune of their software supplier.

Cloud isn’t for everyone Many ERP vendors are pushing their customers to the cloud as a prerequisite. This may be a sensible choice for industries with less heightened security requirements, but A&D manufacturers are involved in a sensitive supply chain, where they must prove compliance with strict military security requirements. When researching the challenges of cloud adoption in A&D organisations, Tech-Clarity found two-thirds highlighted security as a “significant risk”—rising to almost three-quarters when looking specifically at OEM respondents.

A&D manufacturers must have full control over supporting enterprise software deployments. Where business processes dictate, this could be a physically secure on-premise installation, a full SaaS-based deployment or a hybrid environment spanning both.

2. Connect operations – from the factory floor into the field

A&D manufacturers are lagging on the Industry 4.0 or smart manufacturing curve. During a recent webinar looking at the impact of Industry 4.0 for A&D manufacturers, IFS asked 140 A&D decision makers several questions on Industry 4.0 adoption. Only 20% of participants were actively looking to leverage 4.0 technology, identifying it as an enterprise-wide priority, while 68% were still researching how these initiatives can drive digital transformation.

Open architecture means A&D 4.0 is open for business Under the hood of many ERP suites, multiple software products are comprised of disparate applications, developed separately and lashed together with a common user interface. No software can exchange data with every sensor, and A&D manufacturing organisations with inflexible deployments will need to customise and add to their existing implementation to gather information from every available sensor.

Smart factories and intelligent assets deployed in the field will generate many terabytes of data. Simply extracting this data – let alone mining it to inform business decisions and better seize aftermarket service revenue – is something A&D manufacturing is still realising.

Look out for RESTful APIs

But industry-specific manufacturing ERP software built on API-driven architecture can prevent this. A&D manufacturers and services companies today may have developers who write software to introduce data from the IoT and enable other systems to interact with enterprise software. RESTful APIs, a software architectural style for designing networked applications, make it much easier for them to link valuable data steams into the core ERP system.

3. Intelligent decision making means no silos allowed

Introducing data into a supporting enterprise solution is half the battle, but analysing that information to gain insights into operational and business performance is the next step. Data analytics has gone from an observation tool to an optimisation tool, from proactive to predictive intelligence and to help mitigate rapid industry changes.

By actively monitoring asset and process performance, A&D manufacturers can make quicker, better-informed decisions, resulting in productivity improvements, cost savings and added maintenance predictions. But this is moot if data exists in a heavily customised and fragmented enterprise software implementation. Siloed sources cannot be harnessed to paint a full view of manufacturing operations and back-end business processes.

Smarter software enhances business decisions

Enterprise software should combine solutions that visualise information to support decision making both strategically and tactically, providing relevant insight and context. This includes integration with other vital programmes, including Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) which drive execution of shop-floor operations, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to record customer-specific information.

By combining enterprise architecture, business activity monitoring, intelligent business process management, business intelligence and reporting capabilities, a unified platform is created which aligns with the organisation’s business objectives.

4. Security at a level higher than most

A&D manufacturers are required to meet stringent security needs. This applies to the physical products A&D manufacturers deliver—and their digital presence. Witness the security mandates required by defence operators, such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the newly released U.S. DoD Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Version 1.0.

The U.S. Government explains that “the CMMC is intended to serve as a verification mechanism to ensure appropriate levels of cybersecurity practices and processes are in place to ensure basic cyber hygiene as well as protect controlled unclassified information (CUI) that resides on the Department’s industry partners’ networks.” Failing to adhere means A&D manufacturers are shut out of valuable military RFPs and bid situations.

Forewarned … but is your software forearmed? Enterprise software is key in meeting digital security requirements. ‘One-size-fits-all’ ERP systems simply don’t contain the industry-specificity to keep A&D manufacturers compliant. Without a fully integrated application suite allowing data to flow between supply chain management, manufacturing, engineering and CRM, it’s difficult to know which products, parts or transactions may jeopardise an A&D manufacturer.

It will become increasingly important that any ERP solution used for A&D manufacturing has functionality specifically designed for export control and cybersecurity regulations. A business involved in regulated materials or military contracts must be able to efficiently marshal this information from within their ERP system and combine it with external regulatory data to ensure compliance as they process orders, share information and conduct other transactions.

Enterprise software as a strategic enabler

New business opportunities, the challenge of embracing technology advancements and the sudden emergence of disruptive market forces are all happening at once. Success today will depend on an A&D manufacturing organisation’s ability to be agile in their operations and flex their business models—those who can’t adapt just won’t make the cut.

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Future trade strategy for UK tech industry launched

New measures to boost digital trade and help turn the UK into a global tech powerhouse have been announced  by the International Trade Secretary, answering industry calls for support for UK tech firms.

International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, will unveil a package of strategic interventions during London Tech Week to support UK tech companies to seize trade and investment opportunities overseas. Developed in partnership with stakeholders across the industry, the interventions will boost the sector over the long-term and aid its immediate recovery from Coronavirus.

The new measures jointly announced by the Department for International Trade and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will seek to increase tech exports to fast-growing international markets, including Asia-Pacific, strengthen scaleups’ market readiness to export, and attract investment to drive innovation and create jobs.

The comprehensive range of measures include the creation of a new Digital Trade Network for Asia-Pacific, which will support UK SMEs to break into the Asian market. The plans also include the launch of a new Tech Exporting Academy, which will provide expert advice to UK scaleups on subject areas essential to expansion, including regulation, intellectual property, and compliance. The Academy will be led and delivered in partnership with leading professional services firms.

The measures are being announced as part of a wider programme of support for UK tech to ensure the industry benefits from trade opportunities, including future free trade agreements (FTAs). The UK is currently a world-leader in tech and digital, attracting more than £10bn worth of investment in 2019, ranking third only behind the US and China. Future FTAs with partners like the US and Japan will enable the UK to go further, setting new standards in areas of digital technology and e-commerce, and encouraging further investment into the UK’s world-leading tech companies.

This week the Department for International Trade launched the first round of negotiations with Japan. Government analysis shows a UK-Japan FTA will benefit every region and nation of the UK, with the greatest benefits in Scotland, London and the East Midlands. Trade talks will cover all areas set out in the UK’s published negotiating objectives, including cutting edge provisions on digital trade, professional and financial services and support for SMEs.

A number of digital tech subsectors are seeing increased demand as a result of Coronavirus – including EdTech, MedTech, fintech, and cyber security – leading to more export opportunities. Recent research by Sage UK shows 37% of UK SMEs are looking to grow their trade in international markets over the next 3 months.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “The measures we have announced today will help businesses take advantage of opportunities in fast-growing markets overseas, and provide the support that firms need to grow and eventually ‘go global’.

“Trade agreements we are negotiating with key partners will go further than others in addressing barriers to digital trade, opening up huge opportunities for our exporters and also for inward investment into the UK.

“I want the UK to be the leading global voice in digital trade and the intellectual driving force in the space, breaking new ground in trade policy and pushing forward innovative new ideas like a global single market for digital trade.

“Now is the time to harness our talent and potential and unleash it on the world stage. The measures announced today are an important step forwards in achieving that.”

The full range of measures announced include:

  • Launch of an £8m Digital Trade Network (DTN) for Asia Pacific, a joint DIT-DCMS network, to support UK tech businesses to internationalise in this fast-growing region, attract capital and talent to the UK and enhance UK digital economy collaborations internationally. By increasing UK digital tech expertise on the ground across a number of key markets – including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia, government will help innovative UK companies access new trade and investment opportunities, and forge new international partnerships for the digital economy. Tech Nation – the UK tech scale up experts – will be joining the Digital Trade Network, which will see UK businesses participate in an international mission to Asia Pacific, as part of Tech Nation’s programmes in fintech, AI and cyber, to support their expansion into the region.
  • Creation of a new Tech Exporting Academy, to provide expert advice for high-potential SMEs to support growth into priority markets. Led by leading professional services firms (including Linklaters, Deloitte, KPMG, BDO, Taylor Wessing, EY and Clifford Chance) UK SMEs will receive expert advice across a wide range of areas including legal, tax, intellectual property, regulatory and compliance to help reduce the time to market for exporting and increase UK exports. The support will ensure that women tech founders are represented on the cohorts of companies selected for the export academy.
  • A new DIT platform to supercharge UK tech engagement on the global stage and mitigate the impact on firms unable to attend international industry events and investor meetings. This will include a greater presence at international industry events and access to virtual trade shows and virtual event platforms to support international buyer-seller meetings and companies-to-investors introductions. This will be launched in September. Virtual trade shows will allow UK businesses to showcase their capabilities and network with overseas businesses and investors. Technology will be at the heart of the government’s new Ready To Trade campaign with specific campaigns on edtech, medtech, cyber, VR, gaming and animation.
  • As part of the government’s efforts to help level-up the tech industry’s success, we will be creating a new tech network to enhance the English regions’ ability to grow international tech partnerships. This will include the creation of 25 tech export champions across the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine, London and the South. The new network will work with the most promising regional scaleups on their international expansion plans, in partnership with TechNation. DIT and DCMS will continue to work closely with colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure high performing tech companies across the whole United Kingdom receive the support they need to expand internationally.
  • An expansion in support for DIT’s High Potential Opportunities (HPOs) tech programme, to drive foreign direct investment (FDI) into emerging subsectors including 5G, Industry 4.0, Photonics and Immersive Technology, ensuring the UK remains the most attractive destination for tech investment in Europe post-Coronavirus. Working closely with the Devolved Administrations, LEPs and industry partners, government will seek to promote the full spectrum of UK tech capability to overseas investors and identify emerging growth markets for UK firms.
  • The launch of a new fintech campaign in the UK, including promoting UK fintech companies who enable digitisation and resilience in priority export markets, to enhance UK tech competitiveness on the global stage after Coronavirus and ensure we remain the best place to start, scale and internationalise a fintech business.
  • An uplift in outreach and engagement by UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) marketing and communications to raise awareness of UKEF’s offer among UK tech firms and how UKEF and Trade Finance can help them win and fulfil export contracts.

Tech is a key growth area for the UK, contributing £149bn to the economy in 2018, (7.7 % UK GVA) and employing more than 2.9 million people. Last year, the UK attracted a record £10.1bn worth of investment (up 44% from the previous year), more than Germany and France combined.

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SBIRS missile warning satellite completes thermal vacuum testing

The US Space Force’s fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite (SBIRS GEO-5) has successfully completed Thermal Vacuum (TVAC) testing at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California satellite manufacturing facility.

Completing TVAC was a significant milestone for the first military space satellite to be built on one of Lockheed Martin’s modernised LM 2100 satellite buses. During TVAC testing, the satellite – with its sophisticated electronics performing full operations – faced waves of heat and cold in a depressurised atmosphere similar to the drastic environmental changes experienced in space.

“The completion of TVAC can be attributed to a tremendous effort from the Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Aerospace Corporation, and supporting contractor teams,” said Tucker White, SBIRS GEO-5 Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations Lead from the Government Program Office. “The teams worked around the clock and finished on schedule to their original projection. This test phase is vital to any space vehicle test regime and takes GEO-5 one step closer to providing enhanced missile detection to our warfighters.”

SBIRS GEO-5 will join the Space Force’s constellation of missile warning satellites equipped, with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors, which protect our nation 24-7. These sensors collect data that allow the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.

“In SBIRS GEO-5, and our next satellite GEO-6, we’re introducing game-changing enhancements to address the needs of our nation’s space warfighting force going forward,” said Tom McCormick, Vice President for Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Missions at Lockheed Martin Space. “The threat posed by ballistic missile technology continues to spread exponentially around the world. In 2019, SBIRS detected nearly a thousand missile launches globally, which is about a two-fold increase in two years.”

image © Lockheed Martin