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Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2021 took place at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre on 5 October.

The return to a physical venue brought a sense of excitement as representatives from the Ministry of Defence and other public bodies, preferred contractors, the supply chain and academia came together at this hugely anticipated one-day event.

Billed as the defence procurement event of the year, DPRTE 2021 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.

DPRTE 2021 attracted impressive numbers as over 1300 visitors came to Farnborough to hear from the leading and most influential speakers from across the defence procurement and supply chain marketplace.

Elements of the event were also streamed live allowing for a single collaborative experience both online and live.

The event provided a real focus on the key themes dominating the defence and security supply chain – improving SME engagement in UK Defence; the impact of the Integrated Review; the importance of collaboration and innovation to the defence supply chain; and opportunities within the international defence marketplace.

Keynote Arena

The Live Keynote Arena was, as ever, a huge draw for attendees – both in person and virtually.

Angela Owen OBE, founder of Women in Defence UK, was on hand to chair proceedings and introduced the first panel discussion on Opportunity & Innovation: Improving SME engagement in UK Defence.

This featured Andrew Kinniburgh, Director General, Make UK, Simon Tomlinson, Group Director of Supply Chain & Procurement, QinetiQ; Martin Lee, Programme Procurement – Airbus Defence and Space; and Jim Pennycook, Defence Industry Partner, DASA.

Mr Lee commenting from the Prime Contractor perspective, said: ”SMEs are a vital part of our ecosystem”, while Mr Pennycook said: “We are now seeing SMEs win 60% of DASA contracts. We spend a lot time engaging with SMEs; finding and funding exploitable innovation is key for DASA.”

Mr Tomlinson, recognised that the increase in UK defence funding represents a great opportunity for SMES in the defence supply chain, noting that: “Investment in the UK defence market is significant.”

Mr Kinniburgh was keen to stress the importance of adhering to the Social Values: equality for all; equality of opportunity; stewardship of the environment, telling the audience: “Ignore Social Value at your peril.”

This insightful discussion was followed by another panel that examined the topic of the power of partnerships and harnessing a vibrant and collaborative supply chain featuring

Nigel Chandler, Key Account Manager and Strategic Campaign Lead, Airbus; David Pile, Regional Director Space Systems UK, Europe & MENA, Northrop Grumman; and Jaynie Davies, Director Commodity Support Services, from Leidos.

Russ Tidbury, Senior Commercial Director at ENGIE Axima Marine, outlined how the Company is supporting the Royal Navy with its global commitments and how the Company is intent on bringing opportunities for SMEs along with it, saying: “We are looking for the supply chain to support us in delivering our solutions.”

James Norman, Healthcare CIO EMEA at Dell Technologies spoke on OEM Solutions empowering Digital Transformation in Defence, citing the need to ensure that cyber resilience had to be at the heart of every project and not an added extra.

Katherine Paynter, Defence Lead, Partnerships and Impact at DASA; Alexandra Bailey spoke about DASA’s role in finding and funding exploitable innovations for the defence industry and provided a fantastic example case study on how DASA funded submarine tracking technology from Kinsetsu.

Dougal Monk, Director of Strategic Development, Government Solutions – Europe, Middle East & Africa at KBR Government Solutions spoke on the recent UK Government defence strategies such as the Integrated Review and the DSIS. Mr Monk said that the practice of pushing policy through strategic partners is leading to positive change. He cited increases in apprenticeships, adding diversity and tackling environmental concerns as key examples.

Brinley Salzmann, Director, Exports & Overseas at ADS and Richard McKie, Programme Director at UKDSC & Defence Growth Partnership teamed up to give their opinion on overseas defence procurement opportunities post Brexit. A Key piece of advice being for companies

Closing the keynote sessions out was former SAS Operator, Two-Time Everest Summiteer and Author, Jamie ‘Jay’ Morton. The arena was standing room only Jamie delivered an inspirational retrospective of his life and notable achievements.

Knowledge Transfer Zones

DPRTE 2021 hosted four 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. Each interactive zone featured a range of educational sessions, allowing attendees to learn and share ideas in relation to the event’s key themes.

The zones were complimented by six unique networking and collaboration areas that offered 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.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) hosted the Infrastructure and Estates Knowledge Transfer Zone, including a range of topical educational and interactive sessions designed specifically to enhance your knowledge and ability to contribute to the future direction and delivery of the ongoing defence infrastructure and estates procurement programme.

David Poole, DIO Commercial Director, set the tone early. He told the audience: “I really believe in working closely with our entire supply chain. It’s a really important keystone of what we need to do as a major client.”

He confirmed that DIO will publish its forward pipeline, saying: “I think having visibility of that forward pipeline allows our supply chain to plan capacity, skills, capability as well as the basics of bid resource so we are absolutely committed to that.”

Jo Howlett, DIO Commercial Head Business Improvement, delivered a session that elaborated further on the DIO pipeline. Improving visibility of opportunities and engaging more with new SMEs are key targets for DIO, with the ambition to eventually publish the pipeline on a quarterly basis – rather than in its current annual form.

Elsewhere, the Technology and Innovation Knowledge Transfer Zone brought together some of the leading technology organisations such as Dstl, DASA, Ploughshare Innovations and UKCloudX to deliver sessions on defence technology innovations, how to access funding and how you can bring your product to the marketplace.

The defence sector relies heavily on technology and innovation to develop new solutions to meet the challenges it is facing, and it was clear from these sessions that the MOD, through the likes of Dstl and DASA, are determined to harness the diversity and innovation that engagement SMEs can offer.

DASA Innovation Partner, Peter Wilkins, spoke on supporting innovative companies within the defence sector, while Vicki Shepherd, Head of Commercial at Dstl, outlined the routes to market through Dstl’s numerous frameworks.

At the Supply Chain Engagement zone, the importance of adherence to social value within MOD contracts was at the forefront with numerous presentations touching on it.

DCI’s, Senior Business Development Manager, Scott Zonfrillo, delivered a session on the importance early engagement and how the DCI tool can be used to identify opportunities within the defence marketplace.

This Zone also featured presentations from DE&S plus some of the main prime contractor partners such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, QinetiQ, and Airbus discussing current and future projects, and how businesses can work with these organisations.

The Skills Enablement Zone saw Phil Kinnell, Principal Consultant, PASS Training deliver a series of in-depth sessions covering various aspects of procurement, regulations, and frameworks designed specifically to enhance the overall procurement skills and capabilities of those personnel engaged within the defence acquisition process.

DPRTE Product Showcase

Of course, no DPRTE event would be complete without the DPRTE 2021 Product Showcase. For buyers across the MOD and the wider supply chain, the showcase provided an invaluable opportunity to engage and develop new and existing partnerships with a wealth of leading suppliers who are actively delivering a diverse range of innovative products and services that can support both current and future procurement requirements.

This year was no exception. Exhibitors included the likes of BAE Systems, Engie Axima, AECOM, Dell Technologies and KBR to name but a few. The sheer range of products and services from all the exhibitors really highlighted just how the defence marketplace represents such a significant opportunity for all types of companies.

One such exhibitor, Corrina Gee, Head of Marketing & Communications at CDS Defence and Security, commented on her experience of the day: “DPRTE is fast becoming a key event in the defence calendar. CDS Defence & Security attended as the Cyber Security sponsor looking specifically at areas of cyber security awareness in the defence supply chain.

“DPRTE is a fantastic opportunity for us to talk to people at both the strategic and grass roots level, both across industry as a whole and also the Ministry of Defence and we would definitely recommend companies of a similar size and scale as ours exhibiting in the future”

DPRTE will return to Farnborough on Thursday 5th May 2022. Visit the DPRTE website for more details as they are announced.

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Post written by: Matt Brown


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