Minister for Defence Procurement, Mr Jeremy Quin MP, today celebrated the bright future of Defence innovation and collaboration at the formal opening of the Defence BattleLab and the announcement of the new Land Industrial Strategy (LIS).
The completion of the ambitious building programme, set in the heart of Dorset and supported by the LIS, will bring innovation front and centre for the Armed Forces and is the result of a £5.7m partnership project between the MOD, Dorset Council and the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Building on successful global models of innovation and other work across UK Defence, the Defence BattleLab will bring together military personnel, academic institutions and private sector companies to trial and experiment cutting-edge technology.
As the pace of technological change continues to spiral, Defence must be forward leaning to remain ahead of the curve. Mr Jeremy Quin MP,
Minister for Defence Procurement
By utilising the same space, the facility will foster collaboration and creativity to push new technological boundaries, an approach that has proved successful with many global innovation hubs.
It will also help to better support the MOD and the UK’s world class innovative companies to work together, while further boosting Dorset as a hotbed for forward-thinking business ventures.
In a speech at the opening Mr Quin MP said: “As the pace of technological change continues to spiral, Defence must be forward leaning to remain ahead of the curve."
“Collaboration and innovation will be the catalysts to maintaining advantage over our adversaries."
“The BattleLab will bring together the best talent and expertise in industry and push technology boundaries to equip our soldiers, sailors and aviators with the latest innovations.”
“This will be supported by our new Land Industrial Strategy, which will allow us to make crucial decisions on equipment programmes earlier and get these cutting-edge capabilities from the factory to the frontline faster.”
“There are significant synergies between BattleLab and our Land Industrial Strategy, which has innovation at its core.”
He added that the BattleLab was “special” because levelling up was at its heart.
The Army is undergoing it's most radical transformation in more than 20 years to deliver Future Soldier. Lt Gen Sir Christopher Tickell KBE,
Deputy Chief of the General Staff
Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Sir Christopher Tickell KBE, who was also at the opening event, said: "The Army is undergoing it's most radical transformation in more than 20 years to deliver Future Soldier, including spending more than £40bn in the next ten years."
“This demands more from us, our delivery agents, and our industry partners."
“Our commitment to innovate and to work more closely with industry is underpinned by the Land Industrial Strategy and made manifest in facilities such as the Defence BattleLab."
“I could not be more excited to be a part of the launch for these fundamental aspects of our modernisation.”
As well as a 450 square metre workshop space, the new buildings include a 1100 square metre new office space complete with meeting and conferencing facilities.
The 3-storey open plan office space with rentable desk space will see innovative companies able to work and live alongside users from every area of Defence.
The workshop space provides a live-trials and showcase environment for digital and physical technology, including three separate 5G testbeds.
“We believe the Defence BattleLab has real potential to attract investors, inspire collaborations and encourage more SMEs into the county. “ Cecilia Burton, Dorset LEP Chair
Dorset LEP Chair, Cecilia Burton, added: “We share the Army’s ambition to grow an ecosystem of highly innovative companies.
“In providing a collaborative space where SMEs can benefit from the smart technology we’ve brought in, where they can explore how to apply their technology to the defence industry, and where there is opportunity to test and develop innovative solutions for the sector."
“We believe the Defence BattleLab has real potential to attract investors, inspire collaborations and encourage more SMEs into the county. “
The third and possibly most valuable element is the Lulworth test ranges where experimental tech can be taken into “the wild”. The ranges will also host another 5G range in the near future.
Every aspect of the Defence BattleLab is designed to encourage free thinking and novel approaches. For this reason, there is no prescriptive operating model and any company fielding any technology is welcome and can work alongside and partner with any user from any area of Defence.
Since soft launching last summer, the Defence BattleLab has hosted numerous Hackathons, defence technology showcases and workshops across emerging technologies for all areas of defence.