The press release issued by the Ministry of Defence on 7 December 2023.
More than 70 AI companies shared how their innovations can enhance defence’s current and future capabilities at the inaugural DAIC Connect industry event on Monday 27 November.
The event was organised by the Defence AI Centre (DAIC) in partnership with business community Chief Disruptor and brought together representatives from industry and academia alongside defence teams including the single services. The aim was to develop a pan-defence understanding of the current AI market and to foster new connections between industry and Ministry of Defence (MOD) teams. This collaborative approach helps to accelerate innovation and strengthen the UK’s AI ecosystem, giving defence a strategic edge.
Most of the industry attendees were from small and medium sized enterprises, some of whom had not worked with the MOD before. Throughout the day, they engaged with senior staff and representatives from teams across defence, while 11 companies were given the chance to deliver a ten-minute pitch about how their AI projects could enhance defence’s current and future capabilities. The presentations were followed by Q&A sessions in which the audience explored the products’ capabilities and offered observations and advice.
In the networking area, the six companies who had sponsored the event ran exhibition stands, alongside DAIC, Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and Defence Equipment & Support Digital (DE&S Digital) from the MOD. This provided a further forum to discuss innovations and challenges encountered when developing and adopting AI.
Charlie Forte, MOD Chief Information Officer, who delivered the opening address, said:
It is essential that defence develops a more dynamic and integrated relationship with a wide and more diverse group of industry partners because it is through these partnerships that truly transformative solutions can be developed and placed into the hands of users. I am therefore delighted to be opening the inaugural DAIC Connect and to see such a breadth of representation from so many different companies and MOD teams.
Cdre Rachel Singleton RN, Head DAIC, said:
It’s fantastic to see so much enthusiasm in the room as people form new connections. Events like DAIC Connect are about bringing together people from across the AI ecosystem so we can continue to explore how we can exploit AI in support of defence challenges.
Dina Kakaras, Head of Commercial X, explained her team’s work to drive end-to-end, fast-paced acquisition of innovative military capability and to break down barriers for SMEs and wider industry looking to work with the MOD. She emphasised the need to start small and embrace risk, while highlighting the importance of SMEs in driving innovation in the field.
The day closed with speeches and a joint Q&A by Director of Defence Innovation John Ridge and Director of Strategy and Military Digitalisation, Defence Digital, Air Vice-Marshal David Arthurton. John Ridge called for a collaborative approach across defence and industry in encouraging innovation in defence, and building on efforts by many teams over the past few years in achieving what he described as “Innovation 2.0.” Air Vice-Marshal David Arthurton emphasised that trust will be a critical element in bringing all stakeholders on board for the journey.
Paul Jones, VP UK Business Development at CrateDB, said:
CrateDB was proud to be a part of the inaugural DAIC Connect, a unique event where the MOD’s leading AI teams demonstrated the latest challenges and opportunities to the industry. The event was a great success, generating a lot of enthusiasm and interest among the participants.
About the DAIC
The Defence AI Centre was established in 2022 as an outcome of the 2021 Integrated Review. It has the mandate to accelerate defence’s ability to harness AI, in line with our principles and values. Its mission is to champion, enable and innovate the safe and responsible adoption of AI in defence.