Tom Keighley

Member Article

SMEs crucial to defence industry

Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology has stressed the role of SMEs in making the UK the second largest exporter of defence in the world.

Speaking at the Northern Defence Industries ‘Building for Growth’ Conference outside Bristol, Mr Luff talked to over 250 delegates from businesses within the defence supply chain.

The event focused on business opportunities within defence, security, aerospace and space, as the UK boasts £6bn in sales every year.

Mr Luff said: “Despite recent reports defence is big business in the UK and will remain so. The industry is the second largest exporter in the world, with £6bn sales per year.

“We are still finalising the materials programme but we will be looking at a spend of around £150bn in the next decade on procurement for the UK defence sector.”

He stressed the importance of SMEs as the “lifeblood” of the industry, given their agility to exploit new technologies, the niche capabilities to develop it and their cost effectiveness.

On research and technology Mr Luff, said: “We must spend on science and technology. We’ve set the base line at 1.2 per cent of total defence budget, currently equivalent to £400m per annum.

“But I’m hoping it will be possible to increase this as part of the equipment programme.”

The conference also featured speeches from industry experts, the Home Office and the MoD and Ambassador of France, Bernard Ernie, as focus was turned towards UK - France Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty.

Summarising the two-day event David Townsley, executive director of NDI UK, said: “Our aim was to bring together the industry’s experts at a conference to generate knowledge-sharing and some real business opportunities for both sides.

“The general consensus is that we’ve achieved this. Peter Luff’s key-note speech was incredibly well received.

“It reaffirmed our belief that investment in R&T is essential for the growth of the UK defence sector, and the vital role SMEs have in its development.”

Mike Maiden, chairman of NDI added: “It’s been a fantastic two days, full of expert commentary.

“Perhaps the most successful element was the Meet the Buyer event where businesses were able to discuss their procurement options.

“There are some big deals around this year and it’s up to UK business to take advantage of them.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tom Keighley .

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