On 14 March, the Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson formally announced a package of new measures designed to drive productivity and growth in the Defence sector. The Defence Prosperity Programme follow's last year's review by Philip Dunne MP, which examined the sector's contribution to the UK economy, with a particular focus on the ecomonic impact it has within different regions across the UK.
The package of measures announced includes:
£500k investment from the Defence Innovation Fund for a pilot programme with industry to further strengthen the international competitiveness and productivity of the UK defence sector.
A joint programme supported by Invest Northern Ireland and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to pilot a Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP) in Northern Ireland, worth an expected £1.2m in Research and Development investment.
A commitment to working with the Welsh Government on the potential for an Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute alongside the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) in North Wales to cement the region as a centre of excellence for innovation.
Commenting on the announcement, the Defence Secretary said:
These announcements demonstrate the progress we are making in our commitment to boost Defence’s contribution to national prosperity.
Our world-class defence sector operates at the very forefront of innovation, supporting 260,000 jobs and increasing economic growth throughout the UK.
The MOD is playing a central role in the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy and prosperity agenda, ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in defence technology in the years to come.
Within Philip Dunne's review, one of the key recommendations was for the MOD to recognise the need to improve the quality of data gathered on the UK Defence sector, by encouraging greater academic involvement in the area.
To ensure leading decision makers have access to better data, the Defence Secretary also announced:
The proposal to create a Joint Economic Data Hub with industry, sitting within the UK Defence Solution Centre and overseen by a new independent advisory panel, to collect and aggregate economic data from across the defence sector.
A commitment to sponsor an international Defence Economics Conference at Kings College London later this year, as the first of a series of events to develop understanding of the significant economic value of Defence.
Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP said:
I welcome today’s response by the Secretary of State to my report and the steps taken so far to drive the UK prosperity agenda forward, both within the MOD and as it engages with the defence industry on future initiatives.
I look forward to helping the MOD continue to develop the way in which it demonstrates its positive impact within the UK economy.