2016 July 13

[Strategic Notes] The SIA Lab – Fostering Defence Innovation and Transformation

After two years in activity, the SIA Lab has become a genuine bridge linking the Defence sector with the private sector:

  • More than 60 companies have presented their solutions during one of the 20 demonstration sessions that have been organised at the Lab
  • About 10 of these companies have already followed-up with the Administration.
  • On the Ministry’s side, over 500 representatives have followed the various activities organized at the SIA Lab premises.

The success of the SIA Lab initiative illustrates the fact that the dual-use aspect of new information technologies can benefit the armies. The Army Information System, or SIA, is a programme aiming at transforming and harmonizing part of the information system of the Ministry of Defence. Its objective is to rationalize and ensure a convergence of Operational and Command Information Systems of the armies towards a unique system. The setting up of the SIA should provide the Forces with a consistent set of means to manage information in order to ensure good command function – feeding back of information, transmission of orders, management and exploitation of acquired intelligence, and follow-up of resource channelling. One of the objectives of the SIA is to facilitate the adoption of innovations stemming from the civil sector, that are relevant for military applications and at the cutting edge of innovation.

In this context, the SIA Lab was set up at the beginning of 2013 in Paris, close to Balard, the new location of the Ministry of Defence. It is a space for demonstration and reflection, implemented and animated by a dedicated team of the provider, the company CEIS, acting under the responsibility of the systems integrator of the SIA, the Sopra Steria Group. Its objectives are to:

  • Find dual-use innovations stemming from the civilian sector: identify solutions originally developed to meet civilian needs, but that may be relevant to the needs identified within the military forces and the Ministry of Defence;
  • Match the supply of civilian technologies with military operational demand: organize the presentation of identified products, using realistic operational scenarios in order to enable the MoD representatives to evaluate their added value;
  • Advise SMEs in their efforts to connect with the Ministry of Defence: support the companies who presented solutions in building on the contacts made during the demonstration sessions.

The key to the SIA Lab’s success lies in its capacity to fill an existing gap in the innovation chain thanks to a strong methodology and an innovative implementation. The SIA Lab facilitates the matching of supply and demand regarding technologies for information systems. It also contributes to shortening the innovation loop between users and providers.

The Authors

Olivia Cahuzac-Soave  is a consultant at CEIS which she joined in 2011. In addition to her analysis and monitoring missions in the fields of defence and security, she has been involved in several FP7 security projects, including as a research assistant in SAFIRE, and project assistant in RECOBIA. She graduated from Sciences Po (Lille) and holds a Masters Degree in Security, Defence and Strategy. During her studies, Olivia has deepened her knowledge of security and defence issues through experiences at the French Consulate in Quebec City, the NATO Allied Command Transformation (Norfolk) and within the United Nations Headquarters (Committee 1267 – New York).

Axel Dyèvre is the head of the Defence & Security Practice at CEIS. He has also been in charge of the CEIS-European Office since its creation in 2006. Axel started his carrer as an officer in the French Forces. A consultant in strategy from 1995 to 1997, he was then a Senior Partner at DATOPS (now LexisNexis Business Information Solutions), a firm developing information systems, between 1997 and 2005. Axel has been a part of the CEIS expansion since its beginnings in 1997, and he has opened the CEIS-European Office in 2006. He graduated in Business Management from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP Business School).

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