Region's experts discuss future for Aerospace and Defence in the West
26 January 2009
We hosted a breakfast meeting, in partnership with Marsh, on 14th January where the West’s foremost experts in the aerospace and defence sectors met to discuss the implications of taking a more collaborative approach to procurement.
The meeting was the second of a series of breakfast briefings designed to discuss pertinent topics in the aerospace and defence industry and provide an informative networking forum for the region’s leaders in this sector.
The breakfast began with an opportunity to meet fellow delegates, followed by a briefing from Sir Brian Burridge. Following a career in the RAF that spanned almost four decades, Sir Brian is now Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Finmeccanica, a world leader in the Defence equipment sector.
Speaking at the event, Sir Brian said:
“Unless we take action we will lose onshore manufacturing capability. It is vital that we focus on inward investment and recognise that the UK has the most open, but also most competitive, contract market in Europe. Strategic partnership is a key solution to the threat of losing the industry.
“We must not underestimate the importance of maintaining operational sovereignty, to protect our jobs and market and to ensure that we grow a full high-technology economy. The West has a great history of developing talent, through both business and higher education, so industry leaders must not lose sight of our regional prominence.”
The audience, which included top industry figures from Rolls-Royce, discussed the timing of innovation in the light of the current economical situation and how to improve the UK’s chances of maintaining operational sovereignty. The event was considered a great success by delegates, who agreed that a forum for discussion in the region was invaluable.
Burges Salmon partner Ian Whitehall commented:
“The event really captured the flavour of the market. The sector as a whole is relatively robust, but there are challenges ahead. The priority for the coming years will be maintaining the work in the UK and particularly the West, which has traditionally been a region rich in defence manufacturing skill.
“Of course we will be competing with emerging economies like China, who have clued in to the importance of a highly skilled workforce. Aerospace and defence are global businesses, so it is crucial that the UK, particularly in the West, recognises the value of high-tech skills to secure our future as a world centre for aerospace and defence manufacturing.”