Defense secretary Michael Fallon addressing Royal Air Force personnel over the weekend

Ministry of Defence launches £800m innovation fund

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced an £800m innovation fund to boost technological advancement in the UK’s defence sector.

The fund aims to maintain Britain’s operational advantages over its enemies by "harnessing the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of the private sector".

The announcement will also build on a collaboration agreement with the US Secretary of Defence earlier this year.

“As the threats we face grow, it is vital that we harness innovation,” said UK defence secretary Michael Fallon.

“By using our rising defence budget to create a new fund backed by £800m of new investment, we will ensure that we stay ahead of our enemies.”

Fallon made his comments while visiting Scottish defence companies, with the MOD planning to spend around £8bn on conventional warships for the Royal Navy which will be built in Scotland.

“I hope and expect Scottish companies will be heavily involved in this [new, £800m] initiative,” Fallon added.

New institutions will be launched in the wake of the funding announcement to advance defence technology and understand the implications of new technologies that impact on the sector.

These will include the Emerging Technology and Innovation Analysis Cell and a new hub designed to fast-track innovative solutions to defence challenges.

The announcement comes just one month after the MoD’s technology expert Neil Stansfield said that the UK needed to engage its scientists and engineers in order to maintain its defence capabilities against emerging threats.

Fallon highlighted some of the connections that the MoD is particularly proud of and what technology areas it is most interested in furthering.

He said that Glasgow University is already part of the UK’s national network of Quantum Technology Hubs which could further potentially disruptive capabilities like quantum sensing.

Amethyst Research in Glasgow and Helia Photonics in West Lothian and the University of Strathclyde were also singled out as having interesting defence applications in the future.

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