As we draw to the end of a very difficult year in the UK and at my company, these awards are a positive and very welcome break from the challenges we all face in these difficult economic times. They highlight the fact that in engineering, the UK’s contribution and ability is far from exhausted. The nominations are impressive both for their innovation and the diversity of the sectors represented. For me they are a reminder of our long engineering tradition and why the UK is still widely regarded as a centre of excellence. But we mustn’t be complacent. More than ever we need to foster advances in technology and innovation, and the creativity of our engineers. We need to ensure we have a robust future ahead of us and that we will continue to have a unique offering that will set us apart and underpin the UK’s current and future growth.
While these awards demonstrate that we can rely on the ingenuity of our engineers and scientists, we cannot work in isolation. With reduced funding available the engineering sector and the wider business community must work even more closely together – sharing best practice, transferring technology across sectors and increasing partnerships between businesses, SMEs and academic institutions.
As the UK’s biggest employer of professional engineers, BAE Systems recognises this need and invests more than £79m per annum in its Skills 2020 initiative. This initiative includes a substantial education programme to encourage interest in STEM subjects, as well as partnerships with universities. In addition, our Investment in Innovation (I3) programme was created to enhance investment in SMEs and academia sectors, taking an open innovation approach that is different but complimentary to that taken by venture capital and other more traditional investors. We have wide-ranging partnerships, including one with UK Sport where we provide technology to a number of British Olympic teams, including wheelchair racing, cycling and eventing – a timely indication of how transferable engineering can be and the wide opportunities for its exploitation.
All the nominations at this event are shining examples and I am very encouraged by the excellent standards in every single one. They provide a great example of how technology and innovation harnessed through good engineering and partnership can make a difference to future wealth and society at large. Best of luck to all those involved and keep up the good work!
Director Technology Acquisition
Strategic Capability Solutions