The 27 February was a significant day for the security sector, as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, launched the UK’s first Security Exports Strategy. The Strategy is a joint product from UKTI’s Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) and the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT). Alongside Theresa May were Richard Paniguian, the Head of UKTI DSO; Stephen Phipson, the Director Security Industry Engagement in OSCT; and Tim Crofts, the Chairman of the UK’s Security and Resilience Industry Suppliers Community (RISC).
The strategy not only sets out how UK capabilities, if exported, can make a significant contribution to international security by building the capacity of other countries. It also makes clear that, by increasing the UK’s share of what is one of the most rapidly growing global markets (9% per year), the sector can greatly contribute to growth and prosperity.
Why is the Security Exports Strategy important?
The global security export market is changing. Potential customers expect the UK government to have a greater role, and so should UK companies.
The government can perform a number of valuable functions. It can add credibility and support to companies. It can share more information to put UK companies at a competitive advantage. And it can develop relationships and Government-to-Government programmes.
In other words, the government and industry must work in partnership to achieve export success. The Security Exports Strategy marks the start of a more coordinated and aggressive approach in this highly competitive export area. Ministers have personally committed to support security exports, and there is dedicated resource within government devoted to establishing large Government-to-Government programmes and sharing more market intelligence.
Domestic R&D as a basis for exports
Importantly, the Security Exports Strategy also gives the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism and the security sector a mandate to pursue a number of specific initiatives that will support R&D and innovation as the basis for exports, and develop an international market identity of the UK’s security companies, including:
- A Security & Resilience Growth Partnership to set up a new innovation infrastructure in the UK
- A UK Security Brand to give greater assurance about the quality and credibility of security companies
What does industry need to do?
Industry can expect greater support from the government, but it also has roles and responsibilities:
- Companies must ensure they always deliver quality products and services.
- Companies must be reliable – they must meet their commitments.
- Organisations within the security sector – SMEs, Primes and academia – must work more effectively together so that the UK gets real pull-through and commercialisation of R&D to
stay at the forefront of the global market.
What does the Security Exports Strategy mean for the Trade Associations?
The Security Exports Strategy means that the security Trade Associations will need to:
- Take a more targeted approach to future exhibitions and missions, based
on a better understanding of the export market and potential Government-to-Government programmes.
- Encourage companies to form consortia for specific opportunities. In doing so, the Trade Associations must ensure that larger companies constantly engage with new SMEs.
- Help academia and industry work together more effectively.
- Support the government in developing the “UK Offer” for Government-to-Government opportunities and identifying companies to participate in these programmes.
- Work with Ministers to oversee the delivery of the Security Exports Strategy and related initiatives such as the UK Security Brand and Security & Resilience Growth Partnership.