CASSIDIAN UK TECHNOLOGIES RESEARCH PROGRAMMES – AN INTERVIEW WITH GARY CLAYTON, HEAD OF R&T, CASSIDIAN
By Julian Nettlefold
What is the future of Research and Technology (R&T) in an uncertain climate?
The economic environment sets the agenda for a period of austerity and uncertainty in defence spending and has had implications for defence companies. Historically areas such as R&T have often been among the first areas to suffer as companies put a halt on what they deem unnecessary spending. Traditionally the role of R&T in Defence and Security was to improve the capabilities of products and services in the traditional sense. However with the ever changing face of the threat and changing economic environment R&T has to look at alternative and smarter ways that things can be achieved. This often means a paradigm shift in the way business is conducted with Innovation and Technology at its heart. Cassidian believes that R&T is the cornerstone of a successful company and, beyond the reach of the present recession, creates the foundation of future success. Therefore Cassidian UK continues to invest substantial time and money intelligently in cutting edge technology solutions.
How important is R&T to a company like Cassidian?
If companies don’t invest in R&T now – it could have serious implications for the business in five years time. It will not ruin your today, but it can ruin your mid- to long-term success, if not managed properly. Technology is constantly moving at a rapid pace and the business model is changing towards “ready-to-sell” products so technology maturation must speed up to compete with commercial markets.
Customer demands are changing (asymmetric threats, cyber security, urban security, protection of supply/critical raw materials) and identifying which disruptive technologies will make the difference is important.
Research is risky and not a precise science and needs flexible, agile management processes to keep down management costs / bureaucracy allowing it to respond to innovations and new directions when they occur. However maintaining focus is key especially with a wide-spread defense & security product spectrum.
What drives R&T partnering?
Cassidian’s evolving business portfolio calls for new solutions not all are expected to exist in-house. In addition, R&T funding is under increasing pressure and there is a need to leverage emerging markets. Commercial markets also offer powerful and cost efficient technologies which we have to learn from. Cassidian partners with other defence and security, commercial and academic companies and institutions to ensure that the best in class skills and technology are brought to the companies portfolio. EADS Foundation Wales is another excellent example of an innovative partnering approach. Now in its third year, EADS Foundation Wales is a not-for-profit company jointly run by the Wales Government and EADS/Cassidian with Cardiff University on the Board to represent all academia in Wales. The Foundation aims to promote research and technology investment and encourage collaboration between government, wider industry and academia. A number of programmes are underway in various stages of the research lifecycle including intelligence fusion, psychology of deceit, cyber security in distributed process control systems, systems engineering, intelligent power and next generation communications architectures. These programmes are being conducted by EADS, Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities with the aim to expand opportunities to other establishments developing novel and innovative technologies.
Does Cassidian UK have any new projects planned that address emerging issues or trends in the marketplace?
We have commenced a number of new programmes recently and, by way of an example, EADS Foundation Wales is announcing at DSEi that is it to fund research to develop a generic metric for the Cyber Readiness of Sovereign States and this would identify the wor