Yesterday, Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence lay a written statement in front of the House of Commons listing a series of commitments the Ministry of Defence (MoD) intends to make on prosperity and investment in the UK. Further north, the UK Defence industry, senior civil servants, and colleagues from the wider defence community gathered in Coventry to discuss the commitments and the whole host of topics around how Defence contributes much more than just national security.
The investment and commitments made today are:
- A £500k investment in the Defence Innovation Fund to run a pilot programme with the intention of strengthening the international competitiveness and productivity of the UK defence sector.
- A joint programme supported by Invest Northern Ireland and BEIS to pilot a Defence Technology Exploitation Programme in Northern Ireland. It is expected that this may be worth £1.2m in Research & Development investment.
- A commitment to work with the Welsh Government to potentially develop an Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute alongside the Defence Electronics and Components Agency in North Wales.
These investments demonstrate a real intent from the MoD to increase the Government’s defence presence and investment across the UK nations and support the already well-established and productive regional and national industrial hubs.
There are already a number of innovative defence and security SMEs across Wales supplying to major defence programmes; the potential of an Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute could further bolster the national expertise and skills base, inevitably creating companies that emerge from the institute and are encouraged to establish themselves locally.
Crunching the Numbers
Alongside these investments is a recognition of, and more importantly, action supporting the importance of data to fully understanding Defence’s contribution to national prosperity. The MoD has:
- Committed to supporting the establishment of a Joint Economic Data Hub with industry in the Defence Solutions Centre (DSC), this will be overseen by a new independent advisory panel to collect and aggregate economic data across the Defence sector.
- Made a commitment to sponsor an international Defence Economics Conference at Kings College London. To help understand the significant economic value of defence to the national economy.
The Joint Economic Data Hub provides a real opportunity for the UK defence community to begin the important work of gathering evidence to demonstrate the importance of contracting with UK companies. Investing in the UK means retaining economic and social value within the UK, contributing to national prosperity. Building this evidence base will help industry demonstrate how increased support to UK businesses will inevitably increase defence efficiency and value for money for the tax payer.