|The MoD Grand Challenge Kick Off meeting: Part 2||- Kick Off 2|
See the Army VIDEO of the event and its background.
|Challenge is on to find Britain's best technology innovators|
31 Jul 07
The Ministry of Defence has officially announced the teams selected to take part in its Grand Challenge, a competition aimed at finding new ideas to counter the threats faced daily by our Armed Forces at home and abroad.
This Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) used by the Royal Artillery was just one of many items of equipment that was demonstrated to the Grand Challenge teams [Picture: Cpl Russ Nolan RLC]
At the launch, which took place yesterday, Monday 30 July 2007, at Copehill Down, Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support, also announced £10 million of funding for research concept demonstrators.
The Grand Challenge is a major science and technology competition which offers a unique opening into the UK defence market for new suppliers and investors. Both the Grand Challenge and the Competition of Ideas, also launched yesterday, are key drivers of the MOD's Defence Technology Strategy.
Introducing the finalists, Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support, said:
" The Grand Challenge is an opportunity for young minds, for growing businesses, for entrepreneurs and for financiers. I hope that forward looking teams are already thinking about approaching investors.
" Both the Grand Challenge and the Competition of Ideas are putting the Defence Technology Strategy into action. I now want to extend their success of wider engagement, greater innovation and, in particular, delivery at speed by introducing new Research Concept Demonstrators.
" These programmes of fixed duration will allow the MOD to quickly assess concepts with practical and tangible evidence. Not all ideas will succeed but those that do will be in a better state to transfer quickly to our forces. We will start with two pilot demonstrators of approximately £5m each, focused on our high priority areas.
Team members are shown some of the equipment that is used by the Army during Urban Combat [Picture: Cpl Russ Nolan RLC]
" I am delighted to announce the shortlist of finalists. The specific challenge they face is to create a robotic system that can find and identify threats in an urban environment."
Team members jumped at the chance to gather GPS and photographic data at the training facility, and to grill judges on the parameters of the competition. They also watched a demonstration of a reconnaissance foot patrol, bringing home the very real threats they have been tasked with overcoming through innovative technology. For many, this will be a 'David and Goliath' story a real chance to showcase their talent in an arena usually dominated by large companies.
The MOD also displayed a collection of 'foreign' weapons at the event, along with a Desert Hawk UAV which displayed current reconnaissance capability. An infantry section demonstrated urban reconnaissance techniques.
23 teams applied to enter the Grand Challenge. These ranged from established Defence contractors to universities and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The announcement of the teams included those who have received funding from the MOD. During yesterday's event the teams viewed the urban training facility at Copehill Down where final judging of their ideas will take place in August 2008.
At the foreign weapons stand, the teams were able to see some of the weapons that British forces are facing on operations. [Picture: Cpl Russ Nolan RLC]
The Competition of Ideas has attracted more than 450 proposals (half from universities and SMEs). All proposals have been assessed and 63 contracts are to be placed. There has been a strong response from the UK science and technology base and the MOD is now investing £10.5 million into the competition, £0.5 million more than originally planned.
Teams will now work up their prototypes based on the results of yesterday's announcements. They will meet again at Copehill Down in September before the finale next summer. Dr Julia Richardson, Director of Stellar Research Services and leader of Stellar Team, said:
" The Grand Challenge is really exciting. As a research company we never get the chance to put our money where our mouth is, so we have a great opportunity to show what we can do."
Teams will now work up their prototypes based on the results of yesterday's announcements. They will meet again at Copehill Down in September before the finale next summer.
See the British Army VIDEO of the event and the background
|Photographs by Cpl Russ Nolan RLC, British Army|
Gathering of the Teams
Teams being briefed by Maj Gen Cooper
Teams addressed by Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support
Lord Drayson congratulates Dr Joseph Barnard on receiving an award on behalf of the Barnard Microsystems Team to participate as a funded Group 1 Team in the MoD Grand Challenge to be held in August 2008. Some Gaussian blur was applied to the photograph taken by Cpl Russ Nolan to make me look a tad more photogenic...
Instructions on how to enter a house, the British Army way...
Lord Drayson, Maj Gen Cooper and some Team members watch the Army demonstration of " house clearing"
Other Team members watching the Army demonstration of " house clearing"
Smoke from smoke grenades engulfing everyone during the " house clearance" demonstration
Team briefing by Andy Wallace, the Project Manager
Royal Artillery personnel explaining operation of the Desert Hawk UAV
Towards the end of the day, some of the infantry soldiers who had put on a most excellent display of house clearing...