Royal Navy launches innovation challenge

Waves approaching the shoreline. Credit: Mario Guti

The Royal Navy is seeking new technologies and innovations from industry that will help the service remain one of the world’s most advanced and efficient.

The call was made through the Maritime Enterprise Innovation Scotland Conference (MEISC) held at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on Wednesday 24 January.

The Royal Navy, in collaboration with the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), is specifically looking for technologies that will significantly improve the ability for unmanned and autonomous systems to operate underwater.

Open forum

Two specific challenges were set: the provision of low power and high accuracy underwater navigation systems, and underwater vehicle energy management and energy scavenging sytems.

The developer of any technologies which are taken on will receive funding of between £40,000-£100,000 to take forward their proposals, technical support and will retain intellectual property rights.

Sponsored by Rear Admiral John Weale, Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland and Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Submarines, MEISC, held in the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, aims to create an open forum for Navy, industry and academia to collaborate and drive innovation through research.

Since last year’s conference, 16 PhD research projects have been jointly-funded by Strathclyde and industry partners, representing an investment in research of more than £1.5 million, with more PhDs and a long-term research programme being developed.

The four year PhD projects range from the development of quantum radar to detect low-reflectivity targets, to radio-frequency atomic magnetometry to monitor submarine movements.

Rear Admiral John Weale said: “The Royal Navy is interested in any new ideas or technologies that can enhance the UK’s defence and security capabilities.

“To maintain its world class capabilities in the years ahead the Royal Navy will require even greater industrial partnership and innovation throughout the supply chain.  This fact is recognised in the Defence Enterprise approach adopted in the Strategic Defence and Security Review published autumn 2015.

“The Royal Navy works with more than 300 industry partners throughout the UK in developing new technologies and innovations and events like this are important for building those relationships.”

Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The University of Strathclyde has unrivalled links with industry and is adept at partnership working, bringing industry, government and academia together to innovate.

We’re delighted to be supporting the MEISC and the collaborations it facilitates, as well as showcasing the research we are undertaking.”

Details on the technical and business maturity levels of any proposals can be found on the Accelerator website:  https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/defence-and-security-accelerator