Firm highlights risk that UK defence IP may go abroad

Cubewano, a Midlands engineering firm, has today warned the government that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) must purchase more from SMEs, or risk intellectual property developed in the UK being sold to foreign-owned defence conglomerates in order to secure a route to market.

The company, which has 11 patents for its engine and military generator technologies, met today with its MP Andrew Mitchell and asked him to encourage the minister for defence equipment, support and technology to provide more backing to firms who are looking to supply to the MoD.

Last year, Cubewano completed a multi-million-dollar contract supplying its engines to the US Army and has since then adapted its core technology to create a new portable generator that runs on military-standard heavy fuel and can be carried into theatre by just one soldier.

However, the company must now gain an initial order from either the MoD or a foreign military in order to secure the capital to take its Hornet generator range from prototype to production.

Craig Fletcher, founder and managing director of Cubewano, said: ’Tooling to bring Hornet into production will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, so we now need to decide how we fund this.

‘While the MoD provides various grants through the Centre for Defence Enterprise and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, these invariably are for “proof-of-concept” projects rather than taking a proven technology into production. We could probably secure grants from the MoD to help us develop even more patents and innovative technology — but this doesn’t help us get our latest product to market.

‘It means we must now look to one of the larger players in the defence industry to either partner with or sell our IP to completely so they can invest in production and provide a procurement pipeline into the military. We have already had interest from major defence players in the USA and India who want to acquire our patents wholesale — however this would come at an unfortunate production and intellectual cost to both the region and the UK.’