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Defence minister visits UK business partnership

Niteworks : 09 March, 2015  (Company News)
The UK Minister for Defence has paid a visit to Niteworks as the partnership organisation gains its 150th member
Defence minister visits UK business partnership

Philip Dunne MP has visited Niteworks in Farnborough to witness the excellent work the partnership does to support Small and Medium Sized Enterprises involved in defence.

Mr Dunne, who is Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, was in Farnborough on Thursday to chair a regular meeting which brings together the MOD and other government departments with small business leaders. The SME Forum is the centrepiece of the MOD's interaction with Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and provides businesses with an opportunity to engage directly with senior MOD officials.

At the Forum, Mr Dunne met a number of small businesses who are playing an active role in Niteworks, the MOD-industry partnership. This included Actica Consulting Ltd, a business and technical consultancy based in Guildford; Poole-based C3IA, a provider of secure ICT, technical programme management and information security services and solutions; and SVGC Limited, a small company based near Salisbury providing decision support services in the defence and security sector. In total, 63 of Niteworks’ member organisations, or around 42%, are SMEs.

In the afternoon, Mr Dunne visited Niteworks’ headquarters in Farnborough to learn more about how the partnership is supporting the MOD to tackle some of its most challenging military issues. This included briefings on work being undertaken by Niteworks to exploit open source information; activities to optimise the training of military aircrew through cutting-edge simulation; and supporting large-scale, live military training exercises.

Mr Dunne said: “The role SMEs play in our thriving UK Defence sector cannot be underestimated. In 2013/14 we spent nearly £1billion directly with Small and Medium Sized Enterprises who have the specialist capabilities to contribute to battle-winning capabilities for the UK Armed Forces. On a day that has focused on the contribution and benefit for defence of working closely with the SME community, I am delighted that Niteworks 150th member should be an SME such as Drumgrange that has long defence experience. I was also pleased to announce to the SME Forum that provisional figures show that the Ministry of Defence has spent over 19% of its procurement of goods and services with SMEs in 2013/14, as part of our long term economic plan.” Drumgrange is an independent defence contractor and has over 35 years of experience in the successful delivery of technological solutions to UK Armed Forces, NATO forces and overseas militaries. These include Naval GPS units (NAVFIX) to the Royal Navy, the development and support of ComSim (a Bowman Radio training simulator) and Hull Vibration and Monitoring Equipment (HVME), also in service with the Royal Navy.

Niteworks Managing Director Simon Jewell said: “It is important that the Niteworks partnership continues to attract a wide range of companies and academia from across the defence enterprise. I’m therefore delighted that the strong growth in membership and participation witnessed in 2014 has continued into this year.

“Using the breadth of experience available to us, and by working in partnership with MOD, I am proud that since the start of the second phase of Niteworks (November 2007), Niteworks projects have identified more than £1bn in cost avoidance on behalf of the MOD.”

George Howe, Managing Director of Drumgrange said: “Drumgrange is delighted to join the Niteworks team as the 150th member. We are pleased to offer our experience and knowledge, particularly in the fields of Communications, Underwater Systems and Geospatial and Temporal Referencing to assist the MOD decision support processes.”

Established by the MOD in 2003, the Niteworks partnership consists of the major UK defence companies, a diverse associate community of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), a range of specialists and academia, together with the MOD and Dstl. It embraces traditional, global defence providers as well as broader suppliers.

The Niteworks approach enables MOD to rapidly assemble expertise in an impartial environment, with access to prior knowledge and industry Intellectual Property from across the Defence community. It brings together knowledge of the Problem and Solution Space which enables a better understanding both of the feasibility of recommendations and allows them to be rigorously tested and challenged from a range of perspectives – blending incumbent knowledge with the fresh thinking of new suppliers – be they generated by SMEs or a global company.

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