DASA was launched December 2016 with the goal of discovering and funding innovation for the armed forces and national security.

55% of the contracts were awarded to start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which DASA head Anita Friend called ‘the lifeblood of our economy’.

The organisation also helped deliver business and investment coaching to 15 companies that pitched for private sector investment of more than £40m.

DASA has recognised the need ‘to find innovation for a safer future’. Friend said:

“The threats faced by the United Kingdom and our allies continue to be complex and are intensifying and evolving at a relentless pace.

“Events over the last 12 months highlight the essential need for novel and innovative approaches if we are to maintain advantage over those who wish to cause harm to our country and our people.

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“ But it is perhaps the effects of the coronavirus pandemic at home that have brought sharp national focus on the critical need for innovation as we respond, recover and rebuild from this crisis to ensure the UK remains a safe and prosperous place to live.”

The review listed new opportunities for UK defence and security that would:

  • Reduce risk of life
  • Remove personnel from the most dangerous scenarios
  • Increase automation
  • Speed up delivery of supplies to remote places in tough conditions
  • Lower the mental burden on individuals
  • Utilise artificial intelligence and data to enhance evidence-led responses
  • Offer cheaper and more efficient solutions

The review also detailed case studies of projects currently underway such as swarm drones, data-led training technology and autonomous systems.