Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sept 2014

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 33 of 47

W WeSTDef 34 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 aer afghanistan: DebaTIng The opporTunITIeS for InnoVaTIon i f last year's WestDef conference was about perseverance – flood waters were still receding in many parts of Calgary as the event began – then this year was about opportunity. From its inception five years ago, WestDef has been a conference about innovation – especially western innovation. Innovative technology has al- ways been prominent – this year, for example, in- cluded presentations on Lockheed Martin's high- ly advanced F-35 fighter jet and the evolution of Oshkosh's TerraMAX and its role in advancing au- tonomy in ground vehicles (fans of the television show Top Gear will recall James May's race against TerraMAX – he won, but only just). But increasingly the focus has shifted to innova- tion in services such as training and in-service sup- port (ISS), areas that require greater emphasis on collaboration, robust partnerships and thought leadership between industry and government. If the Jenkins report was a constant throughout many of the presentations in 2013, the govern- ment's Defence Procurement Strategy formed the backdrop to much of the discussion at this year's event. Whether it was new approaches to sustain- ment, supply chain management, ISS, investment in innovation, or the RCAF's Emerging Skies Initia- tive to engage with industry earlier in the concept development process, DPS was a driving theme. As Sean Riley of Raytheon noted in a critique of the current business model, "we need to evolve." The theme of the conference, which this year ex- panded to two full steams of presentations, was Cre- ating Innovative Opportunities in a Post Afghani- stan World. So several speakers also delved into the lessons and the way ahead for industry growth, in- cluding how to work with a large OEM, how to win international business, and how to sell in non-west- ern countries (carefully and with eyes widen open). To that end, Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, described a new Western Innovation Initiative recently created by the agency with notionally $100 million allocated over the next five years for small- and medium-sized enterprise to conduct product development, proto- type testing, process testing and scale-up. She also announced $65,000 to support WestDef and the work of its organizer, the Western Canadian Defence Industries Association, in promoting trade and in- vestment for western Canadian SMEs. Appropriately, the conference concluded with a social event at the Naval Museum of Alberta to mark 30 years of unmanned vehicle technology in- novation in the province. Meggitt Training Systems Canada donated several systems, some of which were originally developed in partnership with De- fence Research Development Canada. by John Jones

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