Ministry of Defense: Opening up the organization for digital innovation

November 9th 2018, KINTalks

For the newest edition of KINTalks, we invited lieutenant colonel Patrick Vreeburg, working as Chief Air C2 Cell at the Operation Center of the Air Force Command of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to talk about open and digital innovation at the MoD. Patrick explained that the MoD has developed several open and digital innovation initiatives to improve its ability to provide peace and safety in the Netherlands and contribute to stability and security worldwide. In the recent years, this has become an increasingly pressing matter as terroristic organizations that form a danger for peace and security are quickly becoming more skilled in innovation themselves. During his talk Patrick highlighted several of the innovation initiatives the MoD is involved in to remain on top of technology development such as the warfare centers the MoD created to renew and improve military operations, the improved missile programs or the open innovations initiatives they have developed to initiate innovation ecosystems.

The open innovation programs such as ‘FRONT’ and ‘FRONTDOOR’ are initiated to connect the MoD to innovative individuals and organizations to develop state-of-the-art innovations. In the FRONT initiative the MoD developed a competitive program in which external start-ups and firms with an innovative idea can participate and win up to 200.000 euros to further develop their innovation together with the MoD. In ‘FRONTDOOR’, individuals and organizations are able to directly connect to MoD employees with innovative ideas even when these are still premature. For example, an innovation called ‘Desert Twins’ to harvest water from air using solar energy developed by start-up Sunglacier has recently been piloted in the Sahara Desert in collaboration with the MoD. The MoD is thus quite literally opening its doors to the public to together collaborate for safety and security throughout the world. Patrick also indicated that such initiatives simultaneously requires changes in the own organization. For instance, it has now become possible for non-military personnel to join the MoD and the MoD has created new positions such as that of start-up liaison to further their open innovation approach.

While the FRONT and FRONTDOOR initiatives are particularly concerned to developing the technology of future, also in the present the MoD has been able to implement several innovations within the own organization. The MoD is for example already using virtual reality technology to train its officers for military operations. They also use 3D print and smart sensors on a daily basis and have are now aiming to implement blockchain technology to increase the MoD its ability to prevent collateral damage and causalities through military intervention.

Patrick showed us and the participants during his KINTalk that the MoD is increasingly embracing innovation to improve its operations by implementing digital technology within the organization and initiating innovation ecosystem to stimulate collaborative innovation. Such initiatives are also for us at the KIN Center of Digital Innovation extremely important research areas in which we constantly try to generate more knowledge and provide deeper insights for both practitioners and academics. 

• The MoD is increasingly becoming a more open organization pursuing several open innovation initiatives;
• The MoD is developing a dense innovation ecosystem of start-ups, universities and firms to promote collaboratively develop innovations;
• The MoD is implementing state-of-the-art technologies in the organization to improve its military operations.

In our upcoming KINTalks on January 18th we invited Lydia van Schaik, Manager Mobile Apps and Capabilities at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to give a talk. Keep track of our website to sign up for this event. See you at the next KINTalk!

KINTalks Fighter pilot 1
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