3CDSE – which will take place on Tuesday 16 July and Wednesday 17 July 2019 at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, Worcestershire – has grown significantly from its origin as a networking forum and has established itself as an event that promotes business-to-business networking with key decision-makers and shares and amplifies innovative thinking and ideas within the industry. Now in its third year, the 2019 event will see the team working with the Ministry of Defence for the first time to deliver a unique Industry Day.
In this interview we take a look at the inspiration behind 3CDSE and how the event has grown to become the region’s leading expo for the defence and security industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how this links to the launch of 3CDSE?
“The history of the event is an interesting one. I opened Harrison Clark Rickerby’s Hereford office in March 2012 and it was almost immediately apparent to me that there was a need for specialist legal advice arising from ex-military leaving the Hereford Garrison and setting up their own defence and security businesses. Introducing them to each other led to a number of successful joint ventures. I therefore set about developing the firm’s Defence, Security and the Forces sector team in 2013 to serve this need. I am proud to say that the team now has a national reach.
“Alongside this I also founded Herefordshire Security and Defence Group (HSDG) in 2014, which helped to formalise these introductions by creating a forum where these ex-military business people could meet regularly, share best practice and work together on joint initiatives. In essence, it was a means of trying to promote the interests of those working in the local defence industry to the widest possible audience.
“HSDG has now moved onto another level and evolved into the Three Counties Defence and Security Group Limited (3CDSG), the promoter of the expo, an idea that came to me in the middle of the night as I was pondering HSDG’s next steps!”
This is the first time that the MOD has been involved in the event. Can you tell us how this came about?
“In previous years, the MOD took part in a series of workshops at the event to explain their tendering process; before the inaugural 3CDSE event, the MOD told us that they saw it as an opportunity to engage with SMEs within the D&S industry. Although lean procurement is a buzzword within the MOD, often the process can be drawn out. On the plus side, the MOD recognises that it needs to be closer to SMEs whose creation of innovative products and services isn’t hampered by corporate processes as can happen with some of the larger primes. Often, SMEs have the technology that the MOD requires but don’t have the resources to get through the procurement process. Hence, the event was seen as an excellent opportunity to bring the two together and foster commercial discussion.
“This year we will be launching an MOD Industry Day. The Industry Day will share the vision and work of the Special Projects Programme Delivery Group, which is responsible for the procurement and support of a wide range of equipment used primarily by specialist users. It will also include presentations from each of the teams’ specialist portfolios and allow for smaller breakout sessions to facilitate more detailed discussions with MOD staff.
“Although the event continues to grow, it still maintains its original premise, which is to provide a forum for military, suppliers and security agencies to come together to discuss interests, solutions and opportunities.”
You’ve touched on the importance of SMEs to the MOD; can you expand on this?
“In essence, 3CDSE is now recognised by MOD Special Projects as aligning with their requirements to promote agile procurement to SMEs. These companies have long been recognised as uniquely innovative and of vital importance to an industry worth an estimated £22 billion, £7 billion of which comes from exports.
“Our event is specifically designed with the SME at the core and focuses on issues from affordability through to exposure to these government procurement agencies. The bottom line remains that the event will maximise the opportunity for SMEs to join the MOD, government and law enforcement supply chains.
“Furthermore, the event comes at a critical time as the MOD has confirmed that – as part of diversifying its supply base by 2020 – it plans to spend 25 per cent of the UK’s defence budget with SMEs. This is encouraging news as 90 per cent of the defence industry is based in the Three Counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire; the event is therefore perfectly placed for them to showcase their products and services and, ultimately, obtain government contracts.
“The net result is an event that is truly diverse in representing the spectrum of technologies, manufacturers, consultancies and software developers regardless of turnover or marketing budget. SMEs exhibit side by side with global primes, allowing products and services to ‘do the talking’ to a unique audience of users and procurement agencies with transparent objectives for 2019 and beyond.”
You mentioned that 90 per cent of the defence industry is based in the Three Counties; is that the main reason why the event is being held in the region or are there other factors as well?
“There are a number of factors but the overriding one is that it is at the heart of the industry it is seeking to serve, being based in the Three Counties, a hub of innovation often referred to as ‘the golden triangle’, from Special Forces in Hereford and GCHQ in Cheltenham to QinetiQ in Malvern, as well as a huge number of satellite industries which have grown up around them.
“Other factors include feedback from both delegates and exhibitors following the first expo, who told us that they did not want it to grow into a big, London-based event. It really is the only event of its kind in the middle ground between the large international events and smaller local ones.
“We have now scaled up the event because of the demand from exhibitors and delegates, and for the second year running it will be held at the larger, more easily accessible site of the Three Counties Showground, with its purpose-built exhibition centre and ample free parking. Although we are expecting more than 150 exhibitors and 2,000 delegates this year, we will still ensure it is local and intimate.”
What sort of organisations are likely to benefit most from attending?
“The event will appeal to those from a wide range of backgrounds and sectors including those working in Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Information Systems (C4IS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Cyber Security, as well as anyone already involved in the defence and security industry, the military and the police, and their procurement departments.
“It will also appeal to primes, SMEs and start-ups in the industry, as well as those, such as manufacturing and technology businesses, looking for opportunities to expand into the industry.”
What are the main benefits for those attending as either exhibitors or visitors?
“One of the main benefits is that the event facilitates a more open communication process with the MOD.
“The event will be split between the Industry Day on Tuesday 16 July and the exhibition and conference on Wednesday 17 July. There will also be extra external space where vehicles, hardware and demonstrations can be visited. Wednesday will also see the introduction of MOD Connection Zones where companies and individuals will be given the chance to meet MOD officials, fostering conversation and networking.
“There will also be a special 3CDSE Networking & Innovation Dinner which will take place on the Tuesday at Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, providing an excellent opportunity for sponsors to raise their profile with more intimate groups of key decision makers from the military, law enforcement, security agencies and industry. This innovation themed evening will also provide a forum for jHub Innovation to present on some of the successful projects that have been achieved over the last 12 months and inform industry about how to be involved.
“Visitors will learn about the anticipated needs of the military and the police over the next five years and what they are looking to the industry to provide. From industry, visitors will learn about current innovation, research and development, and the new technologies which these leading technology, hardware and cyber businesses are refining.”
Apart from the MOD’s involvement, are there any other new features for this year’s event?
“A new feature for this year will see the ADS Group – Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space – running a series of free to attend introductory masterclasses on understanding and accessing the security and resilience market. The event will also host the first Defence, Equipment and Support Special Projects (DE&S SP) and Joint Forces Command Capability Special Projects (JFC Cap SP) Industry Day since 2016.”
The defence and security industry is likely to be affected by Brexit; what can the event do to alleviate this?
“The event aims to cater for the fact that with Brexit there may be fewer opportunities in Europe, and with defence cuts, there are potentially going to be many fewer opportunities on our doorstep, so a lot of companies need to find a wider market.”
The small print
Tickets for the Industry Day – security clearance is required – can be purchased via the website at 3cdse.co.uk. Entry to the conference and exhibition is free and aimed at senior members of the military, law enforcement agencies, government agencies and defence and security industry.
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