Dstl seeks SMEs for £40 million research and partnership opportunities

The British organisation wants to team up with defence and security, biometrics, life sciences, and diagnostics companies

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the science and technology sectors could benefit from additional funding from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The UK agency said there are £40 million to £45 million of external investment opportunities up for grabs.

Dstl is now seeking supply chain partners for a series of research projects across the defence spectrum due to start this year.

Representatives from Dstl will be available to meet potential SME partners at Venturefest South. The one-day conference for innovators, entrepreneur and investors takes place at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, on 29 March.

Dstl works with a range of start-up and SMEs, providing funding and guidance to develop new and innovative ideas to help protect the UK’s armed forces; helping companies grow, boosting the regional economy.

Defence is an important sector in the South East, employing more than 39,000 people, with a further 18,000 in aerospace and space.

By working with investors, Dstl also helps companies to commercialise the impact and bring new technologies to market. Licensing agreements have been signed for 125 technologies across defence and security, biometrics, life sciences, and diagnostics which have created 580 jobs.

Gary Aitkenhead, Dstl Chief Executive, commented: “Venturefest is a terrific opportunity to meet potential suppliers and explore ways we can work together. We’re especially interested in companies who have not traditionally worked in defence but have specialist expertise and fresh ideas. SMEs need rapid decisions and it can take as little as a week for a new supplier to be approved.”

Fast-growing innovation network

Venturefest South is a not-for-profit initiative that has been created and developed by a group of partners within the regional innovation economy including:

  • Carswell Gould
  • Solent LEP
  • Innovate UK
  • the Knowledge Transfer Network
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Southampton City Council
  • Solent University
  • The University of Southampton
  • Portsmouth City Council
  • Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

The fast-growing innovation network in the south is supported by a number of corporate sponsors including BDO, Natwest and Dstl. All the money raised from sponsorship and ticket sales will go towards creating opportunities for early-stage business start-ups to exhibit for free at the conference.

Venturefest South is part of the wider Venturefest network, which works nationally to draw local innovation eco-systems together through a number of local events around the country, working closely with the Knowledge Transfer Network, Innovate UK, and other national partners.