Three Counties Defence & Security Expo 2021 hailed huge success

More than 1600 people gathered for the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo, to showcase the latest cutting-edge science and technology advances in military

Despite three pandemic-related postponements, the event proved to be the biggest and most well-attended to date. Industry innovators met with military personnel to discuss how to
tackle the biggest security and defence challenges facing the country now and in the future.

Directly in line with the aims and objectives of the Integrated Review, discussions were held between small independent businesses, large international companies and MoD decision-makers, about how to sustain strategic advantage at home and abroad. Members
of the US Department of Defence and the French Special Forces procurement teams also attended.

Among the highlights of the Show, held at the Three Counties Showground, was the Safescan radar equipment, which allows Special Forces soldiers to ‘see through’ walls, before storming a building, for example to save hostages; an air conditioning cooler unit for Bomb Disposal suits, to prevent the wearer overheating whilst defusing devices; and the latest military vehicles and navigation systems.

Ultra Electronics and Neuro8 also returned to the Show to demonstrate their brain-computer interface technology, to reveal how personnel can fly drones using purely mind-control. This would allow armed forces of the future to keep their hands free for other equipment whilst providing images from Drones flying nearby. Further displays included the latest developments in Space Engineering, Cybersecurity, Drone Technology and Protective Clothing with presentations held in the Innovation Theatre.

The first of the two-day event saw the Ministry of Defence hold its own Special Projects Industry Day, where senior personnel provided classified briefings for future procurement needs. The first day was followed by a wonderful dinner, sponsored by Level Peaks Associates, where diners were wowed by special guest Richard Browning, founder of Gravity Industries. He flew in, wearing one of his specially designed jetpacks, before delivering an after dinner speech about how jetpacks could be used by the military of the future.

More than 130 Exhibitors spent the second day demonstrating the latest technologies being used by the Armed Forces, Special Forces, Intelligence Agencies and Disaster Relief professionals. A number of businesses, exhibiting at the show signed the Armed Forces’ Covenant, pledging their support to the military community.

The Trade Association the Three Counties Defence and Security Group (3CDSG) launched its pilot scheme the new 3CRDSC – Three Counties Regional Defence and Security Cluster, to drive collaboration and innovation between businesses within the region. Members will work with academia and industry and with the support of Government departments such as GCHQ and DASA, to tackle the biggest security issues of the 21st Century.

Major General Robin Anderton-Brown, Director of Capability for UK Strategic Command said: “I really value the opportunity that 3CDSE provides for both defence and industry and I have been fortunate enough to be on this journey since its inception. I am delighted there was an international contingent in attendance and thank them for their participation. 3CDSE is really important to me, because it not only brings together businesses within a small community that are so essential to this specialist sector, but it also provides us, in defence, the opportunity to engage with industry to explain the problems we are trying to overcome, where we intend to invest in the forthcoming years and the technologies we think are most important to us.”

Richard Morgan, President 3CDSE and 3CDSG said “This year’s 3CDSE has been fabulously successful. It is focussed on the special user community, which tends to be cutting-edge technology, not used by all of the Armed Forces. We have the big Primes, such as BAE Systems, QinetiQ and Thales exhibiting here, but their stands are the same size as the smaller SMEs, which means everyone gets the same footfall and there’s a feeling of equality about the event. Doing business online isn’t the same as being able to meet face to face with your peers within the industry at an event like this”.

Nicola Bradshaw from UK CloudX said: “It’s a show we had not done previously but it had been recommended to us, as the place to come to to get access to the communities that are more difficult to get access to, so we wanted to come and show what we can offer. It’s definitely on the calendar now as a really valuable thing for us to do”.

Tony White, Chief Technology Officer Land at Ultra Electronics said: “It’s been an absolutely stunning event at both the Expo and Special Projects Day. Lots of people, lots of interest, lots of conversation, great networking. There’s a kind of post-Covid thing where everyone wants to go and see each other and I’ve bumped into people I’ve not seen for two years now, so it’s been a really good event”.

Mark Hudspeth of SyntheSys said: “We do a lot of work with the MoD and Dstl, so having them here and bringing them to our stand has been a benefit. As a small company we need to collaborate with bigger, and smaller, partners so having those conversations about where our capabilities can co-exist is a great way of doing it here”.

Nick Solomon of 7 Technologies Group said: “When you’re meeting new people you’ve got to build that rapport and we’ve met lots of new potential customers and other exhibitors. We’ll be back absolutely. The work starts now to keep the momentum going”.