LONDON — Britain has pledged to invest £800 million (US$1.2 billion) over the next decade to boost technology innovation work, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
"As the threats we face grow, it is vital that we harness innovation. By using our rising defense budget to create a new fund backed up by £800 million of new investment, we will ensure that we stay ahead of our enemies," Fallon said during a visit to Scottish defense companies Dec 7.
The cash is being provided from a £2 billion joint security fund announced by the government earlier this year and from expected future efficiency gains that the MoD will be allowed to reinvest in various programs.
An MoD spokesman said the funding was separate from to the 1.2 percent of the defense budget spent on science and technology investments.
The initiative is part of a wider innovation effort that includes partnering with the US to address potential vulnerabilities and maintain an operational edge over adversaries — known in the US as the third offset strategy.
"It will build on an agreement with the US secretary of defense earlier this year to deepen our collaboration over innovation," the MoD said in a statement Mondaytoday.
Fallon met his counterpart, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, in October during a flying visit to London by Carter.
"We are looking very closely at what the US third offset strategy is doing and looking to find complementary things to do together," British Defence Procurement Minister Philip Dunne told Defense News in an interview in September.
In 2014, Britain and the US signed a science accord, which by the end of the third quarter of this year had yielded over 100 projects, Dunne said.
The cross-government initiative will involve the creation of an emerging technology and innovation analysis cell to understand the implications of potentially game-changing technologies, and a new hub to fast-track the search for innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges, the MoD said.
The Defence Ministry said further details about its approach to innovation will be released in the first half of next year.
The announcement follows the publication last month of the British government's strategic defense and security review that featured plans to improve innovation efforts here in cooperation with the private sector and academia.
The review said the government was setting up a £165 million defense and cyber innovation fund to support armed forces procurement in these sectors.