Sunday, March 3, 2024

Greater Lincolnshire firms start to realise commercial potential of growing the defence sector

A new business network has met for the first time aiming to accelerate the commercial potential of the growing defence sector in Greater Lincolnshire.

The Greater Lincolnshire Defence & Security Network has been set up by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and more than 50 invited guests met for the launch event at the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln.

The Greater Lincolnshire Defence and Security Network aims to bring together national and international users, manufacturers and experts to overcome challenges in the sector and identify business opportunities.

Its objectives include:

  • forging links with those working in advanced engineering and data science in other sectors locally
  • connecting to the heart of the UK’s low-carbon energy production along the Humber
  • inviting key individuals from the MOD and the sector to set out challenges for the network
  • providing updates and information on opportunities for collaboration
  • highlighting available funding and other opportunities to members, increasing the level of Government research, development and innovation funding invested in our region

The Government committed an additional £16.5 billion in last year’s Budget to develop advanced capabilities including AI, space, cyber and sensor-laden connected hardware. Lincolnshire’s defence and security sector is well placed to make the most of that commitment, and the Greater Lincolnshire Defence & Security Network is designed to harness its potential.

Guests at the launch heard from a number of speakers how the network will guide businesses towards funding opportunities, research programmes and procurement initiatives; alert national organisations and prime contractors to the capabilities and achievements of Lincolnshire’s defence and security businesses; and create and support activities to encourage learning and collaboration throughout the supply chain.

Major General Julian Free CBE, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln and Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP Defence and Security Board, said: “The Greater Lincolnshire Defence and Security Network was successfully launched at the International Bomber Command Centre on Tuesday evening, when over 50 companies learned more about how the network will support SMEs and primes to secure Government and research, development and innovation funding to enable their growth and development.

“The network will also promote the region as an excellent place for both Government and private companies working in and supporting the defence and security sector to invest and develop.

“The presentations were followed by a very engaging Q&A with the panel, which has provided further ideas for the network to incorporate into its approach and activity.  Following the formal proceedings conversations and discussions continued as the real advantage of bringing people together with similar interests took over.”

Among the key themes to emerge were:

  • How the network will enable defence to access innovation and develop it through to capability.
  • How businesses can contribute to that and benefit from it.
  • What areas of innovation, and what challenges, are on the horizon.
  • Where the network can make useful connections to meet these needs and distribute innovations.

Speakers at the event were:

  • Major General Julian Free, CBE, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln and Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP Defence and Security Board
  • Dave Pheasant, Team Leader for the Stratcom and Air Portfolio at the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Future Capabilities Group
  • Jim Pennycook, Head of Operations at the Centre for Defence Enterprise
  • Steve Reeves, Head of Strategy – Advanced Products and Systems at BAE Systems
  • Alison Ballard, Head of Audit at BAE Systems, Greater Lincolnshire LEP Board Director and Deputy Chair of the LEP Defence and Security Board

The launch was jointly hosted by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, the University of Lincoln, Lincolnshire County Council and Team Lincolnshire.

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