Page last updated at 09:43 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 10:43 UK

Inventors urged to devise weapons

The Dragons' Den investors
The Dragons' Den panel has a fearsome reputation

Inventors are being asked to come up with new military weapons, but their ideas first have to get past a Ministry of Defence (MoD) panel.

In a similar format to the hit BBC TV show Dragons' Den, academics will pitch ideas at the Centre for Defence Enterprise in Harwell, Oxfordshire.

The MoD said new innovations on any area of the forces, including weapons, bombs and clothing would be considered.

The project has a 2m budget to fund the development of selected projects.

But Dr Helen Almey, from the centre, said inventors would not face the type of grilling handed out on Dragons' Den as they would not be seeking investment in their own companies.

She added: "That show is very much where people are looking for investors.

'Best science'

"We are not involved in tasking equity, we are offering research contracts so we can get the best science and technology into armed forces.

"We are looking across the board - anything for the army, navy and RAF will be considered."

The MoD said it had a 2m budget to fund early developments of any ideas, but if any projects needed to be taken further the science program budget worth 500m could be used.

Dr Almey denied the MoD had itself run out of fresh ideas.

"We have some excellent scientists within the MoD but nobody wants to be insular," she added.

"There are a lot of ideas out there and if we are going to get the best for our armed forces will we talk to the wider world to see what it can offer."

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