HC Deb 26 November 1997 vol 301 cc561-2W
Dr. Starkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) in what way his Department's research priorities have been modified in responses to Technology Foresight; [17467]

(2) what Technology Foresight priorities are being taken into account in the forward planning of the Department's scientific research programme. [17468]

Mr. Spellar

The Ministry of Defence continues to be deeply involved in Foresight, mainly through its membership of the Defence and Aerospace Panel. Foresight has been welcomed by MOD as a means of improving its dialogue with industry and academia, both to add value for money to MOD's research activities and to support national wealth creation within defence priorities.

The initiative has been reflected in defence research programmes both directly and indirectly. The detailed work of the Defence and Aerospace Panel Technology Working Groups has been taken forward in the development of MOD's technology strategy. Collaboration in research between Defence Evaluation and Research Agency and industry/academia has been encouraged through the Beacon fund and the Pathfinder scheme, which provide mechanisms for the proposal of innovative solutions to meet MOD research requirements. An Innovative Engineering and Rapid Prototyping initiative has been started, which is also aligned with Foresight priorities.

In addition, some six Dual Use Technology Centres have been established with the purpose of facilitating exploitation of defence driven research for civil and commercial use, and Corporate Research Programme proposals are now routinely assessed for their civil as well as their defence potential.

Moreover, there is an increased emphasis on technology demonstration, including the realignment of a number of projects in the context of Foresight Action.

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