ADS partners with Transport Security Expo
Mark Phillips, Director of Security and Resilience Sector, ADS, talks about the nature of ADS' partnership with Transport Security Expo.
Q. Could you begin, Mark, by telling us something about ADS and your role within it?
A. ADS is the national trade association for the UK’s aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, representing about 1,000 companies. I’ve been in my present role since mid-January and am responsible for ADS’ work in the Security and Resilience Sector. About 700 of ADS’ 1,000 member companies are affiliated to the security sector.
ADS is the only organisation that represents the full breadth of UK security capability – from personal protective equipment and CBRNE detection, to capacity building in high risk countries, manned guarding and cyber security. I oversee a team that supports the sector in several ways:
First, by shaping the environment in which the security sector operates.
ADS engages with government departments and agencies on policy and legislative issues that will affect the sector. At the moment, we are very focused on having an effective input into the Strategic Defence and Security Review and, next year, the refreshes of the counter terrorism strategy and the strategy for countering serious and organised crime. We also look at the legislative environment, for example the debate around communications data which is very topical at the moment; ADS wants to ensure the use of technology as part of investigatory powers is underpinned by a clear and robust legal framework that both addresses capability gaps and ensures public trust in how technology is used.
The team also works to increase the profile and understanding of the sector amongst politicians and the public – both in terms of how the sector helps to keep the UK safe and of the sector’s contribution to the UK’s economic growth. For example, we publish an annual outlook report for the sector. The last report showed that the sector has grown five times faster than the rest of the UK economy since the financial crisis.
An important focus for ADS is in supporting members companies in their domestic business development.
The security sector has a very large, fragmented and complex customer base. One of the problems companies face, particularly SMEs, is that there is no single procurement route for the security sector because of the diversity of customers. This can create a real resource burden for companies in terms of understanding who they need to engage with, when requirements will be published and, what those requirements actually mean.
ADS helps companies to navigate customer organisations in the security sector - including Government departments and agencies, the emergency services and private sector operators of critical infrastructure. We do so by creating briefing and networking opportunities for our members to engage with end users, hosting pre-procurement workshops on customer requirements and producing market analysis products. In addition, we introduce businesses to each other, so companies with complementary capabilities can work together on business opportunities.
ADS also provides its members with support for international business development.
ADS is the only national trade association that has a programme of missions and exhibitions specifically designed to support security companies in international business development. This programme is underpinned by market analysis (which we produce), which identifies how attractive different markets are and what the detailed requirements of different customers in those countries are. Activities include UK pavilions at major international exhibitions, trade missions and targeted table-top exhibitions at British embassies. These activities help companies understand and access specific markets and introduce them directly to potential customers. As part of this, we work closely with UKTI DSO to ensure the export support that government provides to companies is adequate, from export funding schemes to senior-level political support and intervention.
Also within the international arena, ADS is the UK Government’s official partner for PMSC standards and regulation. I oversee a small team dedicated to working with the Foreign Office on developing standards and regulations for private military and security companies (PMSCs).
Underpinning all these functions, ADS organises the government’s Security & Policing Exhibition on behalf of the Home Office. Security & Policing is the largest police, security, and national resilience event in the UK and provides a platform for companies to showcase world leading technologies, products and solutions to more than 570 police services, government departments and agencies from the UK and overseas. All exhibitors and visitors are approved by the government. This creates a unique, trusted environment in which to pursue business relationships and opportunities.
Q. So why did ADS decide to become an official partner of Transport Security Expo?
A. There are a wide range of security exhibitions that take place within the UK throughout the year. The sheer number of them can be challenging for companies, particularly SMEs, because it costs time and money to participate, so we feel it is important, as their trade body, to indicate which exhibitions will be of benefit to them. Becoming the official partner of Transport Security Expo is a good way to demonstrate that – and to underline it, we’re offering ADS members a 10% discount on the price of exhibiting.
Q. I understand that you’re also on the Expo’s Advisory Board. Can you tell us what that will mean for you?
A. This is my first year on the Advisory Board and there are two main issues for me: First, there is the opportunity to help shape the content and direction of Transport Security Expo by identifying priority themes or introducing new immersive experiences within the show. Secondly, it gives me the opportunity to promote ADS and the support we provide to companies.
Q . You’ve mentioned the international dimension already but could you say a bit more about your involvement in exporting UK security expertise?
A. There is significant overseas interest in the UK’s security capability, because the UK has faced a very high threat environment for many years and, between Government and industry, has had to develop leading edge capabilities to address the risks. This track record gives the UK real status internationally.
The UK is currently ranked sixth position in the league of global security exporters. However, we believe that, given our reputation, there is scope to do better. ADS has worked with the UKTI DSO and the Home Office to produce the UK’s first ever security exports strategy. In addition, we run our own international activities to support companies seeking to access the global marketplace.
Q. What do you think the implications of the Strategic Defence and Security Review will be for industry?
A. ADS is working very closely with Government to ensure that industry is fully engaged in the Review, particularly across two of its strands: how Government can access the right industrial expertise and capability at the right time, and how Government can do more to support defence and security exports. Both strands are being led by the Cabinet Office, and ADS is facilitating industry contributions to them. In addition, we have individual engagements with the Home Office and Department for Transport on issues specific to their remits
Because of the difficult financial environment the Government is facing and the difficult threat environment, there is a recognition that Government needs to develop new ways of working with industry in order to rapidly identify and assess risks and develop the capabilities needed to address them. So, paradoxically perhaps, the difficult financial context is actually creating an opportunity for industry to develop a partnership with Government – and in certain areas to do more work on behalf of Government.