A £16 million fund has been launched by the UK Government to boost the country’s defence technology sector.

The Defence Technology Exploitation Programme (DTEP) is designed to bring together small firms, the resources of big suppliers, and initial funding from government, to allow pioneering projects to flourish.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), it aims to keep the UK at the “forefront of defence technology”, improve the capabilities available to the nation’s armed forces, increase the competitiveness of the UK industry and grow potential exports benefits.

Individual grants of up to 50 per cent of a project’s value – to a maximum of £500,000 per grant – will be available through DTEP for collaborative projects between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and larger suppliers, supporting the integration of novel technologies, materials and processes into MOD’s supply chains.

Defence minister Jeremy Quin said: “Innovation within defence is crucial to maintaining competitive advantage for our Armed Forces.

“The Defence Technology Exploitation Programme is a positive step in how we support SMEs and larger suppliers to work together to improve the resilience and competitiveness of the MOD’s supply chain.”

Anita Friend, head of the defence and security accelerator, said: “DTEP has been designed to help SMEs join defence supply chains and offers SMEs and larger suppliers the opportunity to come together to solve defence problems.

“For an SME, DTEP offers not only funding but also the opportunity to deliver new innovations into the UK defence supply chain and a way to develop and scale up their business.

“DTEP is also beneficial for larger companies, offering early access to new technologies or processes that they may be able to help commercialise.”

DTEP will be open for proposals year-round, with cycles closing at three-month intervals for assessment of submissions.