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Still living up to its billing as the defence procurement event of the year, Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2020 took place online on 3 September.

As the defence industry was asked to be more agile and transformative, DPRTE 2020 also seized the opportunity by moving to a virtual platform and becoming DPRTE Engage.

Whilst understandably feeling very different from the previous years’ physical events, the online environment still managed to bring together representatives from the Ministry of Defence and other public bodies, prime contractors, the supply chain and academia.

Just as in its physical form, DPRTE Engage provided a unique opportunity to showcase goods and services as well as the chance to engage directly with both the key personnel and organisations responsible for setting strategy and operationally delivering an annual budget of over £20 billion.

The event created a real focus on the key topics currently running through the defence and security supply chain. Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 dominated the agenda but the need to adapt to changing market conditions was underpinned by themes of improved supplier engagement and the wealth of opportunities available within the defence marketplace.

Keynote Arena

Former Ministry of Defence Commercial Director Les Mosco, remotely chaired proceedings, introducing a wealth of leading and most influential speakers from across the defence procurement and supply chain marketplace.

Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin, delivered the opening keynote address, speaking about how the Department was progressing with its strategy to meet its target that 25% of procurement spend should go directly and indirectly to SMEs by 2022.

Mr Quin confirmed that MOD spend with SMEs has risen to 19.3% in the past year and announced details of a £317 million contract to develop the next generation of radar for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons.

Next was Andrew Forzani, Chief Commercial Officer at the MOD, who spoke about what lessons could be learned from the coronavirus pandemic and examined how defence had engaged with industry.

Rob Solly, Division Head at Dstl, highlighted the success in growing the science and technology supply chain through its SME Searchlight project.

Mr Solly revealed figures showing that in the FY 2020, Dstl had a direct spend of £66 million with SMEs, an indirect spend of £19.4 million and a total spend of 27.1% with SMEs.

He said: “SME Searchlight is part of a wider initiative to grow the size and diversity of our supply chain. Last year, Dstl delivered more than £300 million of science and technology through a wide supply chain.”

Jonathan Pollack, Deputy Director at Navy Commercial, provided an overview of Frontline Commands procurement and spoke about how engagement with industry could be enhanced through the use of technology and greater clarity and alignment across the Navy, MOD and the defence sector.

Claire Kober OBE, Managing Director of Homes at Pinnacle Group, discussed the topic of Championing New Perspectives to Support the Military Community, while Scott Petty, Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone UK examined the impact of 5G technology on defence.

Jim Carter, the new Commercial Director of the Submarine Delivery Agency, gave a breakdown on the requirements of the SDA as it looks to improve diversity and collaboration within its supply chain.

Mr Carter said: Our model is one of outsourcing, so our success is dependent on our industry partners and our supply chain. In terms of spend, its around £3 billion per annum on submarine build and support but £1 billion of that flows into the supply chain.”

Bringing the keynotes was Colonel Tim Collins OBE, who delivered a motivational speech focusing on leadership and team building based on his take on military history and his own experiences in his illustrious career.


Knowledge Transfer Zones

DPRTE Engage 2020 hosted five unique Knowledge Transfer Zones designed specifically to enhance the knowledge and skills of all attendees, both buyers and suppliers, who are engaged within the defence acquisition supply chain.

The Technology and Innovation Knowledge Transfer Zone brought together some of the leading technology organisations such as Dstl and DASA to deliver sessions on defence technology innovations, how to access funding and bringing products to the marketplace.

The Supply Chain & Partnering Zone allowed attendees to learn how they could engage and actively pursue new business development opportunities across the wider supply chain.

This included a session from QinetiQ’s Head of Supply Chain Development, Tom O’Byrne, who examined the Company’s success in harnessing the best of industry through collaboration and fostering industry eco-systems.

Nigel Strutt, UK Director, Supply Chain Policy, Governance and Operations at Lockheed Martin provided an overview of the Company’s operations worldwide and a unique insight for companies looking to work within Lockheed Martin’s supply chain.

The Procurement Skills Knowledge Transfer Zone provided of a range of CPD Certified interactive sessions, designed specifically to enhance the overall procurement skills and capabilities of those personnel engaged within the defence acquisition process.

The Doing Business with the US DoD Zone saw representatives from the US Department of Defense provide advice and guidance on how to access the wealth of opportunities available within the world’s largest defence procurement marketplace.

This year’s event was also notable for a unique link up with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). DIO hosted the Infrastructure and Estates Knowledge Transfer Zone, delivering a range of topical educational sessions detailing the organisation’s ongoing commercial transformation and delivery of the ongoing defence infrastructure and estates procurement programme.

Touching on the opportunities that evolving threats bring to defence, Simon Donnan, Head of Delivery Support for DIO, spoke about the need for defence infrastructure to also evolve to help meet these new challenges: He said: “The case for change that underlies that strategy will come as no surprise to most people looking at this area.

“It is a response to global developments in which defence is modernising mobilising and transforming and the defence estate and our infrastructure has to evolve with that situation but must become more resilient against increased uncertainty and evolving threats, which include climate change and also disruption from state aggressors. New threats need new infrastructure solutions.”

DPRTE is renowned for its Product Showcase and DPRTE Engage delivered on this by hosting four exhibition halls. offering buyers and suppliers the chance to engage with key personnel and organisations representing the diverse sectors that contribute to the future strategy and current delivery of the defence procurement marketplace and its supply chain. These were split up into four categories: Technology and Innovation; Infrastructure and Estates; Equipment and Supplies; and Supply Chain Partnering.

Whilst we all hope the event can return in its physical format in 2021, DPRTE Engage provided a welcome opportunity for defence buyers and suppliers to virtually connect and engage.

To discuss booking your 2021 exhibition or sponsorship package, call 0845 270 7066, email [email protected] or visit here.


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Post written by: Matt Brown


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