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UK defence investment boost for SMEs

Wednesday 13 February 2013 8:00

The world’s biggest defence sector firms will open their supply chains up to British SMEs next month as they look to service the MoD’s new £160bn equipment investment plans.

Small businesses will be given the chance to tap into the supply chains of a number of manufacturing giants such as BAE Systems, Bombardier Aerospace, Airbus, Boeing and the Ministry of Defence as they gather at a major event next month.

The event follows the recent release of the Government’s Defence Equipment Plan, which sets out a list of new equipment worth £160bn needed to equip the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force over the next 10 years.

The publication of the equipment plan came on the back of the Defence Secretary’s announcement last year that the Defence Budget has been balanced for the first time in more than a decade and that the MOD is taking a new approach to financial planning.

The 12th Annual NDI Conference, in Manchester on March 5th and 6th, will give small businesses the opportunity to tap into the opportunities related to the UK’s current and future military needs, as well as accessing other lucrative sectors such as aerospace, security and space.

Phillip Dunne MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said: “SMEs make an important contribution to the UK’s defence and security requirements and are a vital source of innovation in a rapidly changing environment. NDI plays an important part in the SME Forum, which I chair, and the annual conference is a good opportunity to discuss how companies can work with the MoD, either directly or as part of the supply chain of prime contractors to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need.

“It’s also a chance for businesses to understand how the Government can support them to explore wider opportunities that exist in the export market.”

“The NDI conference will focus on key areas of business excellence, investment and exports as well as real business opportunities as part of the supply chains of primes and higher-tier companies. I am delighted to be able to support the conference and I commend it to SMEs looking for new business opportunities."

With an estimated £25bn worth of business opportunities represented at the event, delegates will have the chance to meet and sell face to face with their choice of attending buyers, all with current purchasing requirements on offer.

Attendees will also gain insights into the latest industry news and government policy and learn how to develop strategies in global trade, finance and investment, business excellence and supply chain.

The event is sponsored by Lockheed Martin UK and Hitek and hosted by industry organisation NDI – which works with businesses to help them gain access to supply chain opportunities within the defence, aerospace, space, marine and security sectors.

Stephen Ball, CEO of Lockheed Martin UK, said: “Doing business with UK-based suppliers and small businesses adds fuel to the engine of the UK economy. Lockheed Martin spends £1bn a year with its UK suppliers, both large and small, sustaining some 10,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide.

“By virtue of their size, SMEs often have unique attributes which make them agile and responsive in progressing innovative thinking and new technologies.

“As our strategy to expand our UK business develops further, small and medium enterprises figure prominently in our plans. Our team is working to develop mutually beneficial relationships which utilise this agility and innovation.”

David Townsley, executive director of Seaham-headquartered NDI, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for UK small businesses to potentially procure new contracts and find out more about prime contractors and their supply chains in terms of what they need and what they are looking for.

“We have experts in the field of all the key sectors we operate in to address the 300+ businesses we are expecting to attend, so it should be extremely valuable for any SME operating within these fields.”

The 12th Annual NDI Conference runs on March 5th and 6th at The Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club, Manchester. For more information visit, call or email .