§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to implement the Pathfinder initiative.
§ Mr. Aitken
This is a matter delegated to the Defence Research Agency under its framework document. I have therefore asked the chief executive to reply direct to the hon. Member.
Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Jim Cousins, dated 5 July 1993:In today's written answer, the Minister of State for Defence Procurement informed you that I would be replying to your question about the Pathfinder Initiative.The Pathfinder initiative which I launched last year is aimed at establishing closer alignment between the DRA and industry in order to bring about an earlier and more effective transfer of technology from ourselves to those who can carry it forward into development and production.There are 3 elements to Pathfinder—strategic alignment briefings at senior level, an annual conference, and a formal bidding process in which industry can put forward proposals for inclusion in our own research programme. All 3 elements are now very much under way. A first round of briefings took place last year, as indeed did the first conference, and we are about to announce the outcome of the initial tranche of industry bids. The process will be continuing this year with further briefings, a second conference planned for November 1993, and a second round of bidding by industry.So far both industry and academia have shown considerable interest and I am confident that the Pathfinder Scheme will yield the benefits that I envisaged when it was first devised.