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The context for defence innovation has changed significantly recently for two reasons. First, the past five years saw significant declines in both research and development (R&D) and research and technology (R&T) budgets, while sustained austerity is expected to continue to shape available defence spending. The declining investment in defence innovation and technology development presents a particular threat to the long-term sustainability of the defence research base. These changes have reinforced a wider trend in recent decades: the shift of the innovation centre of gravity from defence to the civilian sector. Leveraging civil investment — and ensuring that defence investment is targeted in areas where it can most add value — is critical.

In January 2013 RAND Europe was commissioned by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to conduct a study on the future landscape of defence technology development. The primary focus of the study was to help the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) assess and harness wider investment in relevant UK technology areas. The specific objectives of the study were to:

  • Identify where MOD and non-MOD investments in R&T are likely to shape future UK technology capability of relevance to defence
  • Explore enablers and barriers for the MOD in maximising the impact of its increasingly limited R&T budget.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Study objectives and methodology

  • Chapter Two

    Study context and key issues in technology development

  • Chapter Three

    The innovation and technology development landscape

  • Chapter Four

    Emerging defence technology areas

  • Chapter Five

    Additive manufacturing: discussion and findings

  • Chapter Six

    Synthetic environments: discussion and findings

  • Chapter Seven

    Synthesis and discussion of findings

  • Chapter Eight

    Recommendations and areas for further investigation

  • Appendix A

    Stakeholder engagement and interviews

  • Appendix B

    The innovation and technology development landscape

  • Appendix C

    Methodology of the Rapid Evidence Assessment

  • Appendix D

    Quantitative search documentation

  • Appendix E

    Summary of key technology areas

  • Appendix F

    Assessment of potential case studies

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and conducted by RAND Europe.

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