It is critical for the defence industry to continuously innovate to combat ever changing security threats. This is particularly important with the ongoing unrest across the world.
Airbus Endeavr is a unique collaboration between Airbus, Welsh Government and Cardiff University. The aim is to deliver innovation to Airbus Defence & Space (Newport) whilst creating value for the ecosystem of industry and academia in Wales (i.e. place-based innovation and investment).
The process of identifying and funding research partners was previously via networks and inbound enquiries. However, Airbus Endeavr wanted to increase their reach and impact through the introduction of managed innovation challenge competitions.
The place-based innovation model ensures that only industry partners and universities based in Wales are able to lead research proposals. This requires a highly-targeted level of market engagement to uncover hard-to-find and hard-to-reach potential research partners.
SimplyDo worked with Airbus Endeavr to co-create innovation challenges using ‘Challenge Hack’ workshops. This extracted relevant technical and non-technical information to sculpt challenge web pages compliant with funding requirements (and hosted on SimplyDo’s platform). The two challenges created were generative AI and software-defined cryptography.
Once the challenge page was live, it was critical to drive qualified traffic and applications. The process included traditional account-based marketing and partner referrals but with boosted engagement through SimplyDo’s AI-powered product capabilities identifying relevant research partners from within the innovation ecosystem.
The assessment and shortlisting process was fully facilitated by SimplyDo. All planning of the virtual pitch sessions with potential research partners was managed including customised briefing documents for panels.
This challenge-led innovation approach proved very successful for Airbus Endeavr. Over 1,000 potential research partners from industry and academia were initially identified with 134 demonstrating directly relevant capabilities. 22 research applications were submitted with 7 shortlisted across the two highly-technical challenges. 3 research applications were successful and invited to progress to collaboration agreements with Airbus Endeavr.
The feedback from applicants was also very positive and they found the platform “easy to use” and “more interesting than an application form”. In addition, the feedback highlighted that the process gave them “a positive experience of working with Airbus Endeavr”.
Airbus Endeavr is progressing work with the successful applicants with more defence innovation challenges in the pipeline.