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DSEI to highlight innovation

The Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI), seen by some as the world’s largest arms fair, returns to London next month, displaying the latest technology for the defence and security sectors.

Hosting in excess of 1500 exhibitors from 120 countries, more than 34,000 visitors are expected to pass through its doors.

While DSEI has not been without critics or controversy since its inception in 1999, the event has grown significantly and this year’s exhibition promises a greater focus on innovation and technology.

According to the organisers, DSEI will not only be highlighting new technology from sectors outside its traditional exhibitor base, but also companies which have developed solutions and applications transferable to defence and security.

Innovation is becoming increasingly important in defence procurement and, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), it not only wants to encourage more innovation, but also new suppliers to engage and work within the supply chain.

Industry analysts have noticed a change in the attitude within senior military circles towards embracing new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and machine learning and an acceptance that there needs to be greater collaboration between industry and the military.

In response, DSEI is launching an ‘Innovation Hub’, which is being supported by jHub, the Joint Forces Command initiative established to help identify and exploit new technologies and solutions across a broad range of applications.

According to Air Vice Marshal Bruce Hedley, Director Joint Warfare: “The Joint Forces Command was set up to deliver a more diverse range of services and jHub presents suppliers with an exciting opportunity to access leading innovations, and adapt and adopt existing solutions to meet new challenges.”

Located in London’s Tech City, the jHub innovation centre is a departure from how the military has normally engaged with suppliers in the UK and it is hoped that it will provide a more agile way to work with, as well as attract, new suppliers.

Alongside the Innovation Hub at DSEI, the Defence & Security Accelerator, Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and techUK will also be at DSEI to provide guidance on how innovative ideas, not originally envisioned for defence or security, can be applied to meet future challenges in these sectors.

The Accelerator will host a demonstration area to showcase state-of-the-art equipment in three categories: Big Data; immersive training; and sensors.

Dr Andy Powell, security and defence manager at the KTN, said: “We work with companies across all sectors to help accelerate innovation. The MoD’s Defence Innovation Initiative acknowledges there are many ideas in commercial sectors that can bring significant advantage to defence.”

The importance being attached to innovation was highlighted last year with the launch of the MoD’s Defence Innovation Initiative, which included the introduction of an £800million Defence Innovation Fund to enable the delivery of new technology. A Defence and Security Accelerator was also set up as part of this initiative to provide a bridge between government, industry and academia.

Commenting, DSEI event director Duncan Reid said, “We are continually looking for new ways to develop DSEI and the Innovation Hub will complement DSEI’s established exhibitor-base while helping other suppliers to break into the defence sector. Acting as a ‘marketplace’ for business, it will assist those from the Front-Line Commands who are seeking to deliver military capability with solutions from companies whose expertise lies beyond defence.”

Neil Tyler

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