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The Ministry of Defence has held its first Marketplace event this week to give small British businesses the chance to pitch their innovative ideas to some of the world’s biggest Defence companies, Vigilance can report.

Organised by the Ministry of Defence’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), the event gives small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a unique opportunity to engage with big business and offer up ideas and technology that could be used by the Armed Forces in the future.

SMEs were joined at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London by academics and researchers from two of the country’s leading universities - University of Bristol and University of Lancaster - who also had products to pitch to industry representatives.

Among the technologies on show at the event were:

Blue Bear Systems Research Limited ‘Morphing Wing’: based on the dynamics of a bird’s wing, this is designed to enable the next generation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to be faster, more agile and have greater stability and duration;

Dreampact Ltd’s compact heat sensing video camera: a handheld camera that can also be mounted on a rifle to allow more effective surveillance operations in pitch darkness, bad fog, or dust.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne said: “Today’s Marketplace provides a shop window for small and medium-sized enterprises in the most practical sense, helping those which have received Research and Development funding from the MOD to access their full potential for commercial applications in the UK Defence sector and the export market. Encouraging this technological innovation is vital to our national security and the country’s economic growth. We remain committed to providing our Armed Forces with the very best equipment available, which is why we will continue to invest over £400 million a year in science and technology.”

Jono Byrne, Head of the Centre for Defence Enterprise, said: “Today we have broken fresh ground in developing the department’s engagement with small and medium sized enterprises and academia. Over half of our contracts go to small and medium-sized enterprises and academia and it is vital that we are able to bring these Centre for Defence Enterprise funded innovators, their ideas and capabilities into the Defence supply chain.

“We are delighted with the response and support we have had from Prime Contractors, as they too understand the benefits such a concept can bring. This is only the start for the Marketplace and like all good innovation; I look forward to further improvement, for example, making use of online tools and involving investment companies as well as Defence companies.”

Mike Kurth, Managing Director of Boeing Defence UK, said: “We are delighted to attend the inaugural Marketplace event and look forward to seeing the areas of technology Centre for Defence Enterprise has identified in support of our armed forces. We see the Marketplace as a fantastic opportunity to engage with small and medium-sized enterprises that have relevant innovation and technology for potential work in the future."

CDE is committed to finding new revolutionary ideas and working to make them a reality in the future. Since 2008 CDE has received more than 4,000 proposals for funding, resulting in around 600 contracts valued at over £35 million