The British military is to hold a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel to attract technological innovation capable of “protecting the UK”.

A new Government defence innovation initiative – the ‘Innovation and Research Insights Unit’ – will see individuals and companies invited to pitch to a panel for a share of £800 million over 10 years.

The MoD said the initiative “will involve taking more risks in backing ideas” and highlighted surveillance drones inspired by dragonflies as one example of a funded project.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “This new approach will help to keep Britain safe while supporting our economy, with our brightest brains keeping us ahead of our adversaries.

“Backed by a defence budget that will rise every year until the end of the decade, it will ensure that the UK maintains its military advantage in an increasingly dangerous world.

“The initiative is part of the government’s ambition to deliver an economy that works for all by building on the UK’s science, technology and innovation strengths to harness emerging technologies and other smart solutions.”

Skeeter drone

The dragonfly, a tiny ‘unmanned aerial system’ with flapping wings, is currently in development with Animal Dynamics.

The micro-drone will use cutting edge micro-engineering and could have a huge impact on intelligence-gathering in complex urban environments.

Amazon recently got the green light to test drone deliveries in the UK.

The MoD said it currently spends up to 20 per cent of its science and technology budget on cutting-edge “disruptive capability” projects which displace an established technology and shake up industry.

Other projects include laser weapons, mobile robots that can inspect incidents involving chemical materials, sensors that use gravity to survey underground structures in minutes and virtual reality helmets for practise in calling in simulated air strikes. 

BusinessCloud will host a 'meet the disrupters' breakfast event in Manchester on  September 15th looking at which sectors are ripe for disruption.