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07 Nov 06. QinetiQ, acting as the prime and in partnership with 21 other organisations from industry, academia and the UK defence supply chain, has formed the MEMs Applications for Defence (MEAD) consortium. Its remit is to take a new approach to developing Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology for defence purposes in an MoD backed project worth £3.2m over three years.

The MEAD consortium will bring together world-class organisations, including SMEs spanning systems integration and MEMS device supply with key groups from the world of academia and research. Initially, the MEAD consortium will road map the technology, explore exploitation routes and investigate novel MEMS approaches for use in two defence application areas.

Firstly, the MoD has a requirement for deployable, unattended sensor networks, and QinetiQ will lead this area. Here the need is for small, lightweight, minimal cost military grade sensors that remove the need for expert placement, alignment and recovery. Typically these sensors fall into four groups: robust, low noise, high sensitivity acoustic microphones; orientation sensors; seismic sensors; and magnetic sensors.

Secondly, there is a need to indicate the presence of explosives, so the MEAD Consortium will investigate techniques for sampling air and detecting compounds that warn of the proximity of an explosive device. Smiths Detection, which develops and manufactures trace detection equipment, will lead this research package.

As part of its remit the consortium will also research the potential failure modes of MEMS devices. This is a challenging topic given the vast range of device types under investigation, the spectrum of materials and processes used to realise them and the interaction between the MEMS device, and any packaging used to protect it from the environment.

“We welcome this opportunity to extend our partnering activities within a broad research and industrial base and will aggressively explore and exploit solutions enabled by MEMS technology to meet MoD needs,” explained Simon Bennett, COO of QinetiQ’s Security and Dual Use sector. “Our technical and project management expertise in defence focused applications of MEMS makes this QinetiQ led consortium the ideal partner and vehicle for the MoD.”

Ed Swindle, MoD Research Acquisition Organisation added: “This is a great opportunity for the MoD to foster innovation and co-operation across a broad supply base to access leading edge technology and accelerate its application in a new generation of MEMS devices that address real defence needs. This new partnership model is a key element in the continued process of defence research competition.”

QinetiQ has and continues to develop its relationships with SMEs, industry and academia to stimulate technological invention, innovation and integration into the defence supply chain. In addition to its own diverse research initiatives, QinetiQ has established formal relationships with many of the UK’s top universities to help foster defence innovation and stimulate adoption. Over the past year, in addition to working with the majority of the UK’s defence primes, QinetiQ has also contracted with over 500 SMEs for research goods and services plus placed significant orders with a further 3500 SMEs.

The MEAD Consortium currently comprises: AML, C-MAC MicroTechnology, Filtronic, INNOS, Lockheed Martin Insys, MicroCircuit Engineering, Microsaic Systems, National Physics Laboratory, QinetiQ, SEME FAB, Saul Research, Smiths Detection, Thales Optronics, University of Birmingham, Cardiff University, Cranfield University, University of Edinburgh, Heriot Watt University, Imperial College – London, Lancaster University, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (INEX) and The University of Sheffield. For more information about joining the MEAD Consortium or to learn how QinetiQ is helping stimulate innovation, call the contact team

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