The Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP) is set to provide £15 million to subject-matter experts (SMEs) in order to boost defence innovation and promote new technologies in the UK’s defence sector.

The scheme will provide grants of up to 50 percent of a projects value, or up to a maximum of £500,000, in support of new defence ventures. The grants provided will be available for collaborative projects of SMEs and larger suppliers in the hope of supporting the integration of new and innovative technologies.

It aims to support innovative tech, materials and processes into Ministry of Defence (MOD) supply chains, allowing organisations to increase trading while supporting the launch of pioneering projects.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “Innovation within defence is crucial to maintaining competitive advantage for our Armed Forces. The Defence Technology Exploitation Programme is a positive step in how we support SMEs and larger suppliers to work together to improve the resilience and competitiveness of the MOD’s supply chain.”

Applications for the funding are open all year round and will be assessed in 3-month cycles.

John Garrido, Regional VP UK for WithYouWithMe, commented: “UK defence technologies and strategies require constant evaluation and levelling up, so it’s reassuring to see the government committing significant support in this area. SMEs, in particular, are an excellent source of innovative technologies and solutions to help supplement the work of the Ministry of Defence and other key defence departments.

“But with new technologies comes a need for technically capable individuals to understand and leverage this technology in an optimal way, as well as train others. Presently there is a significant shortage of digitally skilled people in the UK, and this must be addressed alongside investment into the technology itself.

“Solving the digital skills crisis won’t happen overnight, but significant strides can be made if organisations re-evaluate their approach to sourcing and retaining digital talent. Leveraging aptitude testing, for example, can help to identify individuals in the defence space, as well as untapped talent pools such as military veterans, the neurodivergent, and the unemployed, who possess suitable tech traits, and provide them with skill mapping and digital training to level up the UK’s digital workforce.”