U.K. launches $1 billion defense technology initiative

LONDON, The U.K. Ministry of Defense on Friday announced a defense innovation initiative seeking to accelerate technology and change the ministry’s creative culture.

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The government will seek new technology and smart solutions as part of a plan that aims to transform how defense deals with the challenges of the future, the ministry said in a statement.

The initiative will involve a panel, backed by $1 billion over 10 years, to which individuals and companies can pitch their ideas.

That panel will also take more risks in backing ideas, with a fast track option for particularly novel ideas.

An innovation and research insights unit will also seek to anticipate emerging technological trends and analyze their implications for defense and security.

Once strategy and investment decisions are made, a dedicated hub will act as a defense and security accelerator, which the ministry said will ensure that innovative solutions to pressing national security challenges are developed briskly.

Ideas the ministry envisions emerging from the project include “drones inspired by dragonflies, laser weapons, mobile robots that can suspect incidents involving chemical materials, sensors that use gravity to survey underground structures in minutes, and virtual reality helmets to practice calling in simulated air strikes.”

A full launch event is planned for September and will include a prospectus, exhibitions and guidance for how and when industry can apply to the innovation fund.

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