NDI, the defence division of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation today hosted a visit by the Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin MP at its Technology Hub in Birmingham at a key meeting of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) SME Forum.
NDI is an important partner of the MOD and the Forum, which acts as the main interaction with its SME suppliers, plays a vital role in equipping the UK’s armed forces.
The meeting coincided with the launch of the MOD Science & Technology Strategy and Apprentices at the Hub were able to demonstrate the high-level technical skills that EEF provides to manufacturers. The Minister then chaired a roundtable discussion on the importance of innovation and upskilling in defence, including how to better open up opportunities for novel and disruptive technologies, which are often best sourced from among the SME community.
With the MOD preparing a refresh of its industrial policy, scheduled to be published later this year, topics covered also included how MOD can engender greater UK supply chain involvement in MOD competitions, how SMEs can be supported to grow their exports, and how innovation can be incentivised within the Defence supply chain.
MOD is looking to increase the proportion of spend through SMEs from 19% in the last Parliament to 25% by the end of this Parliament and the Minister also provided an update on progress towards this goal. Mrs Baldwin was clear about both the military and economic benefits from pursuing such a policy, highlighting that SMEs in particular had a key role to play in helping to innovate the defence sector and ultimately provide battle winning capability.
Andy Tuscher, NDI Director, welcomed the opportunity to engage with MOD at the most senior level on the issue of innovation in defence.
“NDI is pleased to showcase the exciting new technologies that companies are contributing to defence, and discuss how to better enable even more collaboration between MOD and the SME community working at the edge of the technology envelope. This sort of engagement is crucial to ensure that MOD can establish the means through which we, as an industry, we can work ever more closely with the Department in the best interests of the UK economy”
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said:
“This new strategy puts world-beating science and technology right at the core of our Armed Forces. Investing millions into innovative ideas from dynamic British companies will help us defend the country in the face of intensifying threats and keep us ahead of the curve.”
NDI is a division of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation. It represents, and provides services for, over 200 companies in the UK defence, space, aerospace and security sectors. Its aim is to raise the profile of member businesses and ensure they receive fair access to contracts in the defence, aerospace and emerging space and security sectors.
It encourages members to communicate and collaborate, proactively identifying complementary services and opportunities to joint venture, building relationships throughout the UK and beyond to deliver a comprehensive, disciplined and capable supply network.