UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
15 Mar 22. Ploughshare wins £280,000 in government funding to develop two defence technologies for the benefit of society. Ploughshare, the company owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) that finds new and inspiring uses for government inventions, has won more than £280,000 in grants to develop two technologies for the benefit of society. Ploughshare facilitated successful bids by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to the government’s new Knowledge Asset Grant Fund. The funds will assist in the development of two new technologies – a predictive test for sepsis being developed by Presymptom Health, and a sensor that can detect and identify laser threats from Sentinel Photonics. The grants, offered by the Knowledge Asset’s unit in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), are to support the repurposing, commercialisation or expanded use of public sector knowledge assets. This is part of the Government’s Knowledge Assets initiative which aims to unlock the value of Knowledge Assets for social, economic and financial benefit to the public with a targeted programme of work and support to organisations across Government.
David English, Dstl Chief Finance Officer, commented: “We’re delighted that these science and technology innovations developed by Dstl will be further advanced. These two examples are indicative of Dstl’s commitment to protect lives through superior technology and innovation, while also supporting UK industry.”
In the case of Presymptom Health, Ploughshare supported Dstl in securing up to £100,000 from the fund which it will use to contract Presymptom Health to conduct research and development of AI machine learning software. This software could be used to analyse thousands of blood samples in Dstl’s biobank, accumulated over 10 years of research.
Initial trials of the technology, first developed for the MOD for use on the front line and now licensed by Ploughshare to Presymptom Health, suggest it can predict the onset of sepsis in patients up to three days before symptoms appear, enabling clinicians to treat them much sooner and manage them more effectively.
Ploughshare also aided Dstl in its bid for £180,000 relating to its work with Sentinel Photonics, which is developing sophisticated technology to detect and protect against laser threats. The technology, licensed to Sentinel by Ploughshare, was developed for military use to detect and assess the threat levels of lasers deployed against personnel, aircraft and vehicles.
Dstl will use the grant funding to contract Sentinel to explore opportunities for civilian use – for example as a method of detection and threat level assessment when lasers are shone at commercial aircraft such as air ambulances, or at sporting events. The technology could potentially be installed in public areas to detect lasers, acting as a deterrent against their illegal use.
Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, CEO of Ploughshare, said: “We are delighted to have facilitated Dstl’s successful applications so that Presymptom Health and Sentinel Photonics can be among the first to benefit from the Knowledge Assets Grant Fund. This fund was created specifically to test the potential of knowledge assets for expanded or alternative use – directly in line with our mission to enable the commercialisation of government defence research for the benefit of society.
“These two technologies are at a very exciting stage of development, and the support of BEIS and Dstl will enable them to take the next step towards delivering positive societal impact.”
Chris Burgess, Sentinel Photonics CEO, said: “We are grateful for the support of Ploughshare, Dstl and BEIS in securing these funds which will enable us to take a significant step in unlocking the potential for our technology to detect and protect against laser threats to civilians. This grant will give us space and time to hold conversations with relevant organisations while continuing to develop and refine our technology.”
Iain Miller, CEO at Presymptom Health, said: “As we continue to explore the potential for our technology to provide early diagnosis of sepsis, which claims the lives of up to 11 million people each year around the world, we are grateful for this grant which could enable us to find new ways of detecting tell-tale markers which are an indication for the disease.
“Our development of machine learning technology, with the support of Dstl and enabled by the Knowledge Assets Grant Fund, could greatly increase the rate at which we can analyse samples, enabling us to bring this potentially life-saving test into general use more quickly.”
Ploughshare, wholly owned by Dstl, has unique access to a wide range of technologies developed by leading scientists and engineers at the MOD and wider government. Since it was founded in 2005 it has licensed more than 140 innovative technologies and created more than 400 jobs.
The Knowledge Assets Grant fund, operated out of BEIS, offers grants of up to £250,000 to support the repurposing, commercialisation or expanded use of public sector knowledge assets. This aims to realise the potential of these assets for the benefit of the UK. Later this year, a new dedicated unit in BEIS will launch to support knowledge asset development, including a new funding round for the Knowledge Assets Grant Fund. For more information see www.ploughshare.co.uk
14 Mar 22. Government announces plans for largest ever R&D budget.
The £39.8bn R&D budget for 2022-2025 will help deliver the government’s Innovation Strategy and drive forward ambitions as a science superpower.
- Business Secretary confirms how the £39.8bn R&D budget for 2022-2025, the largest ever, will be allocated between partner organisations
- allocations will deliver on the government’s Innovation Strategy, including the ambition to increase total R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027
- investments will enable the government to strengthen our world-leading R&D system and cement the UK’s position as a science superpower and innovation nation
The largest ever research and development budget, worth £39.8bn, has been allocated across the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s partner organisations, the government has confirmed today.
Driving forward the government’s ambitions as a science superpower, the Spending Review committed record levels of investment in the UK’s world-leading research base over the next 3 years, with R&D spending set to increase by £5 bn to £20 bn per annum by 2024-2025 – a 33% increase in spending over the current parliament by 2024-2025.
The allocations will allow the government to deliver on the ambitions set out in the Innovation Strategy, with these investments supporting our commitment to ensure total R&D spending reaches 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
These investments will contribute to the new cross-government approach on research and development, helping to deliver strategic advantage in science and technology, work alongside industry to leverage private investment, and deliver prosperity, security and resilience this century.
In turn, the investment will support priorities that are key to the UK’s prosperity, from tackling climate change to levelling up opportunities across the country, enabling investment in new technologies from clean tech to AI, where the UK has a strong competitive advantage globally and industrial strength at home.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “For too long, R&D spending in the UK has trailed behind our neighbours – and in this country, science and business have existed in separate spheres. I am adamant that this must change. Now is the moment to unleash British science, technology and innovation to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. My department’s £39.8bn R&D budget – the largest ever R&D budget committed so far – will be deployed and specifically targeted to strengthen Britain’s comparative advantages, supporting the best ideas to become the best commercial innovations, and securing the UK’s position as a science superpower.”
This includes full funding for EU programmes, for which £6.8 bn has been allocated to support the UK’s association with Horizon Europe, Euratom Research & Training, and Fusion for Energy. If the UK is unable to associate to Horizon Europe, the funding allocated to Horizon association will go to UK government R&D programmes, including those to support new international partnerships.
A significant proportion of the budget has been allocated to UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), which will receive over £25 bn across the next 3 years, reaching over £8.8 bn in 2024-2025, its highest ever level and over £1 bn more than in 2021-2022. This will include an increase in funding for core Innovate UK programmes by 66% to £1.1 bn in 2024-2025, helping connect companies to the capital, skills and connections they need to innovate and grow.
The UK Space Agency’s budget will also grow to over £600m by 2024-2025, recognising the fact that our world-leading space sector adds nearly £16 bn to UK GDP while underpinning complementary parts of the economy including finance, logistics and agriculture. This is equivalent to a real terms increase of 14%.
These allocations follow the government’s recent commitments made in the Levelling Up White Paper to increase public investment in R&D outside the greater South East by at least a third over the Spending Review period, and for these regions to receive at least 55% of BEIS domestic R&D budget by 2024-2025.
The government’s ambitious R&D investment plans, combined with our generous R&D tax credits programme, will give businesses the confidence to invest in the field following the pandemic, with research finding that every £1 of public expenditure in R&D eventually leverages an average of £2 of additional private investment. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Mar 22. General Dynamics raises objections over $11bn DOD IT award.
General Dynamics IT is challenging Leidos’ win of an $11.5bn contract to consolidate IT services across all of the Defense Department’s administrative and support agencies.
General Dynamics has level a full slate of complaints over the Defense Information Services Agency’s decision to award Leidos an $11.5bn IT services contract.
The Defense Information Systems Agency wants to use the 10-year contract to consolidate IT systems across all DOD administrative and support agencies, the so-called “Fourth Estate” outside the combat services.
Leidos won the Defense Enclave Services contract in late February and since then DISA has been conducting the post-award debriefings, which in the defense market can include multiple exchanges of questions and answers.
GDIT filed its protest March 10. A decision is due June 20.
I’m told that GDIT is challenging how DISA conducted discussions with bidders as well as the evaluation of technical solutions, pricing, and past performance. From there, GDIT goes on to challenge how DISA conducted its best value tradeoff decision.
Enclave is a massive undertaking given it will establish a single network named DODNet, which will be the IT infrastructure for 22 agencies with 400,000 users across 80 locations. Areas of responsibilities for the prime contractor incude design, implementation, and operations and sustainment of networks.
The contractor-managed solution will cover desktops, laptops and other end-user devices that connect to data centers, native internet, and cloud computing services. Leidos and GDIT have declined to comment on the protest. (Source: washingtontechnology.com)
REST OF THE WORLD
15 Mar 22. Washington to provide Egypt with F-15 jets, U.S. general says. The top U.S. general for forces in the Middle East said on Tuesday that he believed the United States would provide Egypt with F-15 aircraft.
“I think we have good news in that we’re going to provide them with F-15s, which was a long, hard slog,” General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said during a congressional hearing.
McKenzie did not provide details on timing or how many F-15 aircraft, made by Boeing (BA.N), would be provided.
Last month, McKenzie emphasized “very robust” military assistance to Egypt as he flew into Cairo in the wake of a decision by President Joe Biden administration’s to cut $130m in military aid to the country over human rights concerns.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former Army chief, has been criticized for crushing dissent since coming to power after leading the 2013 ouster of elected President Mohamed Mursi of the now-banned Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood.
U.S. officials have said the American relationship with Egypt is complex. The most-populous Arab country is a vital ally and key voice in the Arab world. U.S. military officials have long stressed Egypt’s role expediting the passage of U.S. warships through the Suez Canal and granting overflight for American military aircraft. (Source: Reuters)
15 Mar 22. Babcock and NZDF partnership to deliver $15m injection into NZ economy. Local New Zealand businesses are set to reap the benefits of a partnership between Babcock and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) which will conduct maintenance and upgrade works on two decommissioned Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Inshore Patrol Vessels before they are sold to the Republic of Ireland.
Babcock and NZDF will regenerate and modify the ships – ex HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki – to operational seaworthiness standards, supported by Babcock’s extensive supply chain across the New Zealand marine and defence industry.
Babcock Australasia Managing Director Defence, Andy Davis, said: “We will partner with up to 30 local businesses to deliver this project, through a range of contracts with a total value of approximately NZ$15m.
“Our trusted suppliers and subcontractors are a key part of our capability and they will play a critical role on this project as another great demonstration of what New Zealand industry can achieve together.
“This work demonstrates how the NZDF and Babcock partnership is focussed on building long term collaborative relationships with New Zealand businesses. This will continue to deliver broader economic outcomes and provide increasing access to government defence work for these supporting businesses.”
The scope of works will include overhaul of main and auxiliary engines, docking of both vessels for hull preservation, propeller and rudder overhaul, inspection, service, and commissioning of all electric, mechanical, hydraulic and communication systems, required to return the vessels to Lloyds Class.
Additional activities include modifying the vessels so they are compatible with the equipment fit of the current Irish Naval fleet.
Babcock has a long history of working with the Irish Naval Service, having built the P60 Samuel Beckett Class of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).
Babcock International CEO, David Lockwood said: “Working with two partner navies on opposite sides of the globe, to deliver improved outcomes for both is the very essence of Babcock; we are proud to be helping create a safe and secure world, together”.
Built in Whangarei and commissioned into the Navy in 2009, during their service the two ships have been deployed on search and rescue, fishery monitoring, border security and maritime surveillance operations around New Zealand’s 15,000km coastline.
NZDF expect the two ships to be delivered to Ireland in April 2023.