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BAE Systems 'Dragons' are in for innovation

Image from innovation presentation
BAE Systems has invited businesses from across the UK to showcase their hi-tech and innovative ideas to help resolve real world complex issues.

The challenge resulted in a Dragons’ Den style event being staged in Portsmouth by the company’s Maritime Services business.

A total of 13 businesses, large and small, from as far afield as Scotland, were invited to pitch their innovations.

Two of the companies, Intrepid Minds of Warwickshire and Aralia Systems of West Sussex, have been selected to discuss potential opportunities for collaboration to address some of the technical challenges faced by BAE Systems.

BAE Systems Technologist, Matt Albans, explained that the challenges were issued anonymously through external agency the Knowledge Transfer Network, which specialises in enabling innovation sharing between businesses.

Only when the companies were selected were they told they’d be presenting their ideas to one of the largest defence companies in the world.

The participants faced a panel of BAE Systems experts and had 20 minutes to make their pitch before a question and answer session.

Matt, who co-ordinated the event, said the companies ranged from one person start-ups to a multi-national defence company – “and everything in between”.

The challenges involved using artificial intelligence to recognise specific components in complex pieces of machinery and the development of state-of-the-art techniques to monitor the rates of degradation of metal and painted surfaces.

“Here in Portsmouth we’re extremely proud of the fact that the work we do enables the Royal Navy to deploy the fleet to protect our shores and those of our NATO allies around the world,” said Matt.

“There are some really clever ideas out there and as a large company we’re always looking for exciting new opportunities to collaborate with industry partners and the supply chain to develop the best possible solutions for our customers.

“In this way we can develop even more innovative ways of helping our armed forces to stay a step ahead to protect people, national security, critical infrastructure and vital information.”

The event also highlighted possible opportunities for some of the companies which presented to collaborate with different areas of the business. These opportunities are now being investigated further.

“A lot of people said it was the first time they’d been able to pitch their ideas to a company the size of BAE Systems and they really appreciated the opportunity.”

Adam Smith, Managing Director of Intrepid Minds, which manufactures state-of-the-art drone data analytic systems for a broad range of applications, said: “BAE Systems could be seen as one of those big, prime companies that people like me from small and medium enterprises respect but are wary of. That’s not the case at all and opportunities like this make you appreciate just how much we can do for one another.

“Intrepid Minds, which I set up eight years ago, now employs 25 people. We already have a really good track record of innovation in a number of areas, including the defence sector, so we’re hopeful that this event will open even more doors for us.”

Due to the unprecedented success of the event, further sessions are being planned throughout 2019, with the additional involvement of BAE Systems’ Air and Submarines businesses.