June 1, 2022

January 11, 2022

The Percy Hobart Fellowship

Driving innovation in Defence

Learning & Workforce Transformation


The Percy Hobart Fellowship (PHF) was a full-time, 12-week programme that aimed to drive a culture of innovation in Defence -  teaching Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel to identify the needs of today’s military and secure the most effective technologies and tools to meet these needs. Fellows have also joined from the US Navy, British Army, and MoD.


The programme aimed to drive a culture of innovation in Defence -  teaching specialist RN and RAF personnel to identify the needs of today’s Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and secure the most effective technologies and tools to meet these needs. Each iteration included up to 50 Fellows, divided into two concurrent cohorts, and made up of a wide range of career backgrounds and levels of seniority - the entire course took a trade and rank-agnostic approach to allow for maximum peer-engagement and an experience of flat hierarchies.

The programme was designed around four pillars:

  1. Taught Curriculum: This included lectures and workshops led by academics, officials, innovators, and entrepreneurs mapped to take Fellows from problem identification and ideation, through design thinking, agile methodologies and tech fundamentals, to business case design and effective change management and communication. Each Fellow participated in more than 100 hours of taught content and workshops from more than 50 experts throughout the programme. Curriculum expertise alongside feedback gathered from all programme stakeholders, particularly current and former Fellows, has ensured this curriculum has continually evolved across iterations to ensure it meets their needs.
  2. Startup Placement: Each Fellow was placed within a leading startup within the GovTech space, giving them direct experience of working within an innovation and technology-led environment, as well as the opportunity to learn further skills and contribute to ongoing projects. These startups sat within a wide variety of sectors, from defence and cybersecurity, to health, city planning, and data science.
  3. Innovation Project: Throughout the course, Fellows worked on an individual “innovation project”; they developde a detailed plan using tools learned on the course to solve a problem within Defence they have identified. This culminated in them “pitching” these projects to senior RN/RAF and MoD personnel as part of their graduation, with the potential for these ideas to be developed further and integrated into service. Examples of past successful projects include additional capability being added to the MyNavy app to improve medical service delivery, improved tracking of F-35 spare parts, and an integrated digital training tracker for Royal Marine recruits. All of this learning was supported by a team of mentors who directly work with each Fellow to help them make the most of the programme.
  4. Alumi Programme: After graduation, Fellows joined a passionate group of alumni and a programme of regular guest lectures, newsletters, and networking opportunities. They also have continued access to course materials, course communication channels, and resources on the educational platform Apolitical. Following the most recent graduation there will be over 100 alumni, actively engaged in driving innovation within Defence, networking, and communicating opportunities to learn, develop, and collaborate.


Each edition of The Percy Hobart Fellowship worked with around 45 Fellows across the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and US Navy for 12 weeks. Fellows returned to their ranks with a sophisticated awareness of the fundamentals of technology and entrepreneurship and have the opportunity to continue their engagement with the scheme via the Percy Hobart Fellowship Alumni programme.

"An incredibly brave and enlightened concept, the Percy Hobart Fellowship has provided a welcome space to rapidly learn about startup innovation culture and hear from some of the brightest minds in this space. I hope to return to Defence and grow the community of ‘Innovation Seeking’ individuals looking for fast paced developments." -RAF Fellow

"The Fellowship has shown me that by combining Mission Command and accountability with a startup’s flexibility and openness to change, we can harness a potent force for growth in an organisation that empowers its people to take risks, fail and iterate ideas without fear of reprimand – a vital end-state if we are serious about innovation in the UK Armed Forces." -Royal Navy Fellow


Photo by the author

Roisin McCarthy

Former Team Member

Photo by the author

Ken Okoye

Senior Associate

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