Emphasising Defence's vital economic relationship with Yorkshire, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon opened a state of the art facility in Huddersfield.
Huddersfield-based company David Brown Santasalo is over 150 years old and has long history of providing gearboxes to the Armed Forces; today it is working with BAE Systems on the gearboxes for the first three cutting-edge Type 26 Global Combat Ships. The company is one of over 600 Yorkshire-based suppliers with more than £185 million worth of defence contracts.
Defence work brings investment worth £36m to the Huddersfield economy while sustaining and creating 90 jobs directly and indirectly through the supply chain. In addition to the creation of cutting-edge assembly and test facilities, this investment backs a new generation of engineers. David Brown Santasalo have supported 25 apprenticeships over the past 5 years, with a further apprenticeship intake planned for 2017. In 2016, six team members completed their apprenticeships in mechanical engineering.
Sir Michael also visited the Tinsley Bridge Group (TBG) of engineering businesses in Sheffield, which has made a vital and innovative contribution to the UK’s defence. In partnership with BAE Systems, TBG have developed a new high-strength steel called “Extralite”.
In order to develop and test the Extralite torsion bar, TBG was awarded a £100,000 research and development grant from the Innovate UK Smart scheme to fast track the development of the new material for use on the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle. In concert with the Army, development and testing was completed in less than five months.
Tinsley Bridge has won two more grants under Innovate UK’s Smart scheme for research and development. The first, for £136,000, has allowed the company to research the next evolution of Extralite. A second grant of £38,000 is being used by TBG to research new composite materials.
British innovation lies at the heart of the MOD’s new Innovation Initiative. The Innovation Initiative will transform the Ministry of Defence’s creative culture by strengthening and streamlining collaboration with both new and established partners. The new Innovation Fund of around £800 million over ten years will support fresh and innovative ideas from across and beyond the Defence sector: building security and prosperity.
The MOD’s investment in these innovative solutions demonstrates how the Government’s £178 billion equipment plan, supported by a rising Defence budget, is ensuring our Armed Forces have the most effective and innovative capability available. The Innovation Initiative aims to strengthen the Defence partnerships which make such projects possible, keeping the UK safe and secure in a complex world.