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New DASA Ideas Marketplace wants your innovative defence tech pitches

"Businesses that show technical promise will be given opportunity, support and guidance..."

The UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has launched an Ideas Marketplace, where technology innovators can pitch ideas, collaborate, and work towards commercialisation.

The DASA Ideas Marketplace pulls together 10 of the UK’s defence and security innovation organisations. Along with DASA, participating agencies include Strategic Command’s jHub, the Royal Navy’s DARE, the Royal Air Force’s RAFX, the Army’s ARIEL, DE&S Future Capabilities Group, UK Space Command, and the Regional Defence and Security Clusters.

Members of the DASA Ideas Marketplace will be able to get their concepts in front of these bodies, and also participate in exclusive competitions and get details on funding opportunities. But the main pitch behind the marketplace is the collaboration and networking aspect.

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“The Ideas Marketplace is designed to enable innovative organisations to engage with the best people in defence and security, easily. It encourages collaboration between organisations of all shapes and sizes, to foster new and dynamic relationships to make innovations a success,” said the DASA press release on the launch.

The accelerator first announced its plans for the DASA Ideas Marketplace last year, as part of its 2021-24 strategy. “We have understood that we need to reach innovators who did not realise that they could work within defence and security,” said DASA in its public strategy document, released in May 2021.

The strategy also acknowledged commercialisation and business readiness was as important as technology readiness when developing new ideas. DASA pledged to support commercialisation and “pull through” of innovative ideas.

“Businesses that show technical promise will be given the opportunity, support and guidance to develop their business and systems readiness, through access to defence and security business support schemes, such as defence innovation loans, and by developing an innovation ideas marketplace for ideas to be brokered with larger organisations in a position to develop and commercialise them,” said the DASA strategy.

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Tom Winstanley, CTO at NTT Data UK & Ireland, welcomed the launch of the DASA Ideas Marketplace. He noted NTT Data’s involvement in the Civil Service Data Challenge, along with the Cabinet Office, ONS and others, which is designed to let civil servants collaborate on innovative uses of data.

“By opening up a line of communication between innovators, technology leadership, and the government, the best ideas and thinkers can fill gaps on a regular basis – putting their efforts where they are most needed and opening up new lines of enquiry for stakeholders to put their weight behind,” said Winstanley in a prepared statement to The Stack.

One key difference between the Civil Service Data Challenge and the DASA Ideas Marketplace, though, is the crucial element of commercialisation. Sharing ideas in development is always a potentially risky prospect – although DASA will hope the incentives of early-stage funding (and also presumably a documented timeline of ideas and communication) will provide sufficient incentive.

In this respect, NTT Data’s Winstanley said innovators need to change their attitude: “Businesses can find it easy to stick to tried-and-tested methodologies so long as these approaches bring success, but such an approach is short-sighted and limits innovation and progress.”

We will be interested to see how the DASA Ideas Marketplace progresses after launch.

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