March 1, 2023

March 13, 2023

Innovation in Defence: Pan-Defence innovation training to take ideas through to impact

A three-tiered training programme, providing pan-defence personnel with applied skills in innovative user-centred design approaches through case studies, online and in-person learning experiences.

Learning & Workforce Transformation


New technologies are rapidly changing the way militaries operate, and the tools and equipment they use. While technology offers us manifold opportunities, innovation must be successfully enabled, delivered and adopted to ensure it delivers real impact. Defence innovators must design user-centric solutions for the most useful and novel ideas to be taken through to impact. Leaders must simultaneously enable the conditions for innovation success across their teams, organisations and MOD as a whole. To stay one step ahead of those who threaten our safety, the Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) aims to embed innovation across Defence, ensuring its personnel are innovative by instinct, and equipped with the user-centred design toolkit.


The DIU selected PUBLIC to deliver Innovation in Defence, a three-tiered, pan-Defence innovation training programme. In the design and delivery of the three courses, Our Learning and Workforce team brings its unique experience in applied innovation learning and human-centred design for the public sector; its ecosystem approach to transformation, bringing the best minds together to solve society’s challenges; and its access to a network of expert faculty, mentors and GovTech startups.

Since 2020, PUBLIC has delivered the Percy Hobart Fellowship (PHF) to personnel from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and US Navy; this twelve-week programme taught fellows how to integrate new technologies into Defence, accelerate transformation around citizens’ needs and acquire startup methodologies to drive agility and people-centred design.

In early 2023, we launched the first of its Innovation in Defence series, Innovation Essentials, shortly followed by the second course, Innovation in Practice. The two bespoke courses bring together diverse cohorts of Defence personnel in a range of online and in-person learning experiences. In both courses, our expert faculty equip MOD innovators with project and design thinking methodologies, from problem identification to ideation, through to building and scaling solutions. Learners build their own innovation toolkits alongside real Defence case studies, not only learning the fundamental skills, but putting the innovation process into practice.


The training equips participants with the skills, methods and resources to solve complex problems in the Defence context, and to test and scale-up innovative ideas for impact. Accessible to the whole of the Ministry of Defence, Innovation Essentials and Innovation in Practice are aligned to the Pan-Defence Skills Framework (PDSF), helping Defence professionals track their proficiency levels across knowledge, skill applications, experiences, and behaviours.

We launched recruitment in late November 2022, with over 250 MOD personnel applying to the learning programme. In February 2023, the first cohort of participants graduated from the Innovation Essentials course, with 95% reporting they would recommend the course to a colleague. In October 2023, the second iteration of the Innovation Essentials course concluded, with that number rising to 97% of participants.


Photo by the author

Elina Lam-Gall

Former Team Member

Photo by the author

Nathan Bromley

Senior Associate

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