Float your boat

It’s easy to forget what a remarkable transformation has taken place to bring the old Defence Evaluation and Research Agency to the threshold of becoming a publicly-traded player in the global technology arena.


The details of the planned flotation of Qinetiq have whipped up quite a storm. Opposition MPs and national newspapers have lined up to condemn what they claim is the short-changing of the taxpayer, and the big windfalls potentially awaiting the group’s management and existing investors.



Amid the controversy, it’s easy to forget what a remarkable transformation has taken place to bring the old Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (Dera) to the threshold of becoming a publicly-traded player in the global technology arena.



Whatever your view on the mechanics of the flotation, the old low-profile Dera is certainly gone forever. Qinetiq may not exactly be a household name,but a growing number of people will be able to put their finger on what it aims to do – develop core technologies that can be applied across military and civilian markets, and make money into the bargain.



That, we would suggest, is good for Qinetiq and good for UK engineering and technology in general. Far too often in recent years we have seen the word ‘technology’ viewed by the worlds of IT and the internet to be their sole property.



If you ask people to name a leading technology company, the more astute and informed might come up with BAE Systems or Rolls-Royce. But a great many others will struggle to get beyond AOL, Apple or Microsoft.



The latter three are all honourable and successful businesses but, if after the fuss around its flotation has calmed down, Qinetiq can put itself on themap as a world-class provider of advanced engineering technologies, the balance can begin to be redressed.


Andrew Lee
Editor
The Engineer Magazine & Online