The conference was created by Leonardo, which has a dedicated training academy based in Lincoln, and strategic consultancy EWS Ltd, with the specific aim of bringing together domain knowledge experts from the Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) and the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) worlds. Attendees included SMEs from across the East Midlands and beyond, alongside primes, academia and the military, with over 30 separate organisations represented on the day.
Richard ‘Eddie’ Edwards, Managing Director of EWS, said: “The British military has an enormous task ahead delivering the Future Soldier programme with a key emphasis on engaging more fully with SMEs to utilise their agility, innovative product knowledge and key capabilities to help them meet their Land Cyber objectives. However, we know from our own experiences that there are significant constraints for SMEs wishing to access defence procurement opportunities in a timely manner.”
In developing the key themes for the event, Richard explained that EWS and Leonardo wanted to organise a conference focused on collaboration and showcasing the depth of CEMA/ISR and EW capability and diverse skills in the East Midlands area.
Richard added: “We came up with the idea of this event to get key people from across the CEMA/ISR world into the same room, to get them talking and to enable them to start building relationships and partnerships that will help us all deliver successful defence projects.”
Head of the Leonardo Training Academy, Jamie Garbutt, was delighted to host the event at Leonardo’s site, with attendees benefiting from the purpose-made facilities at which the company is already hosting EW customers from around the world to deliver CEMA training.
Jamie said: “Our on-site team has many years’ experience of working with international airborne EW customers including personnel from our RAF Waddington and RAF Coningsby, who rely on our team’s expertise to develop the CEMA knowledge and skills that will make a real difference to those working at the frontline. Hosting our first event here made perfect sense given our spacious, COVID-friendly spaces for the presentations and keynote speeches, and plenty of large classrooms for comfortable breakout networking sessions afterwards. It is a perfect venue for us to discuss how together we in UK industry, and particularly the experts based here in the Lincoln region, can best support the future Electronic Warfare & Signals Intelligence (EWSI) requirements of the British Army.”
Kristina Evans, LCP SRO from the Army HQ Land Cyber Programme, and her team delivered the keynote speech at this inaugural event, focusing on the Land Cyber Programme and the Future of Electronic Warfare & Signals Intelligence (EWSI), which wholly engaged the audience’s attention. It prompted significant and lively discussion of the issues raised during the subsequent networking events following the presentations.
Reflecting on the impact of the event, Jamie and Eddie concluded that the feedback received from attendees has been exceptional and they intend to continue the collaboration to facilitate future opportunities for SMEs to foster new relationships within the CEMA/ISR industry and extend their network of contacts.
Leonardo’s Lincoln site was established in 2007 and offers a dedicated facility that provides Electronic Warfare Operational Support (EWOS) to customers that include RAF Waddington and RAF Coningsby. The site at Alpha Court includes Leonardo's Training Academy, which opened in September 2018, educating technical specialists from the UK and internationally within the CEMA domain.