The Defence Secretary has announced the formation of a panel to spearhead the Ministry of Defence's 'Innovation Initiative'.
The Defence Innovation Advisory Panel will, according to the MoD, be "charged with driving forward the MOD's Innovation Initiative, which aims to encourage imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, in pursuit of maintaining a military advantage in the future".
Speaking to engineering students, academics and apprentices at Oxford University, Sir Michael Fallon announced three members of the new panel, including Major Tim Peake, the first British astronaut at the European Space Agency. Sir Michael said:
"Backed by an £800 million innovation fund, we want to transform defence and work with small firms, academics and others to find solutions to the threats to our security."
"This panel of world-class innovators will bring their drive and expert insights to the vital task of keeping the UK ahead of our adversaries and boosting our prosperity."
Major Tim Peake said:
"I'm delighted to be part of the Ministry of Defence's drive to place innovation at the heart of everything they do, and to bring my experience to the effort to improve the technology, organisation, and culture that keep the UK safe."
The other two panel members to be announced were businessman and former chairman of McLaren Technology Group Ron Dennis and Robert Hannigan, recently retired GCHQ Director. Ron Dennis said:
"There can be nothing more important than our national security, and I'm enthusiastic to be among the first of those named to this world-class panel, who have joined MoD to spearhead their efforts to innovate across the organisation, from technology to culture – challenging the status quo, staying ahead of the curve through change and innovation."
During his speech, the Defence Secretary also announced the launch of a two-year, £8m second phase of research and development exploring the future of unmanned air systems, in partnership with Leonardo Helicopters.
Sir Michael also announced that scientist Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte has been appointed to lead the MoD's research and technology programme, as its Chief Scientific Advisor.
He'll be responsible for the MoD's commitment to spend 1.2% of its budget on science and technology.