BAE Systems - Building technology clusters in Essex.
BAE Systems is a global defence, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. The company has approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, with sales in excess of £18.5 billion in 2008.
The group’s Technology and Engineering Services (TES), based at Great Baddow near Chelmsford in Essex, provides a research and development facility that delivers innovation, technology and future capability for BAE Systems and its joint venture partners, as well as for external clients like the Ministry of Defence, European Space Agency, Selex and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Collaboration is key to the success of the research programmes as James Baker, Director of Technology and Engineering Services, explains. “We are pulling technology through from the supply chain in Essex, creating an open innovation environment that involves many of the technology companies in the area. We aim to build an innovation community clustered around the mid-Essex area. There is a lot of good research out there in Essex among both start-ups and established companies. We act like a technology broker to bring intellectual property owners together with potential users in our defence markets. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.”
The level of collaboration with partners, universities, suppliers and other BAE companies means that the Essex transport infrastructure is important to TES staff.
“We’ve got some 200 scientists and researchers on our team and we believe that it’s important for them to meet their collaboration colleagues face to face. The road and rail links to London, Cambridge and other TES sites in the UK make it easy to maintain the right level of contact.”
The Chelmsford area has proved to be a valuable source of skills and experience for a knowledge-based organisation like TES.
“The company has a strong heritage in this area so it means that there is a core of key technical skills and knowledge to draw on,” says James Baker. “And our links with universities in Essex and in the East of England provide another valuable resource. We’re running a number of important projects and programmes through strategic partnerships.”
Essex has long proven to be a valuable base for technology companies like BAE Systems, with an established community of high-calibre skills and suppliers, as well as excellent transport links to support the high levels of collaboration the company relies on.