Refreshing Defence Industrial Policy - techUK view

Today MOD released a document summarising the consultation responses that have been received as part of the Defence Industrial Policy Refresh that has been occurring over 2016 and 2017.

The two page document that can be viewed here largely sticks to the format that was used in the initial consultation process of 2016, namely using the six main sections noted below:

· Optimising Capability Development

· Doing Business with Defence

· Value for Money

· International by Design

· Engaging Industry

· Innovation

techUK is pleased to see a great deal of the points that were made in our submission have been noted in the summary within this document. Over the coming weeks we will restate and further explore some of the point acknowledged in MOD’s summary that remain of primary to techUK members. This week, it is SME engagement.

This is a perennial issue for MOD and industry that permeates into every area of defence that industry supplies to. MOD’s SME contracting target of 25% (based on contract value) remains a tall order to hit and maintain given the challenges that are posed by the current shape of the industry. Efforts to engage SMEs directly have been difficult to maintain based on resource and efficiency considerations. For example, the Supply Chain Advocate network has struggled to fit into a muddled landscape of industrial engagement offerings.

However, MOD has acknowledged the potential benefits of initiatives that would streamline the procurement process and reduce the time between submitting a tender and the placing of a contract. Small changes to the procurement process such as these will undoubtedly help Defence appeal more to new entrants.

The articulation of pipeline opportunities for industry is of paramount importance for companies of all sizes. The access and insight that can be gained by the incumbent supplier can be potentially invaluable when it comes to understanding future opportunities. techUK strongly believes MOD must make a department-wide concerted effort to bring together information about the further pipeline opportunities. Foresight of business opportunities, with the associated programme timelines, scope, and values, are sets of information that are vital to making sensible planning decisions. Sharing this information, as best as can be done, de-risks engaging with defence for the new entrant, and proves to the shareholders and directors that there are real opportunities to compete for.

We look forward to engaging MOD on the final Refresh document due to be released later this year. As the consultation process and this summary document has shown there are a multitude of strategic, commercial, process, and organisational issues to address, however it is promising that so many of them have been officially recognised within this MOD document.

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