The Percy Hobart Fellowship is a bespoke, 12-week course to give immersive, hands-on experience in innovation to personnel in the Royal Navy. As we enter the fourth week of running the programme, here’s an update on what the fellowship is and how it’s been going so far.

For so many years, civil innovation has benefited from military ingenuity – GPS, the Internet, duct tape, digital cameras, microwave ovens, synthetic rubber tyres. The economy is full of innovations that started in the military, were inspired by or were tested in the military before developing civilian uses. But the digital revolution means that knowledge now has to flow even more into Defence from outside.

That will require service personnel to have a different mindset and a new set of skills. Through learning modules and practical, hands-on experience in innovative startups, the Percy Hobart Fellowship will equip personnel with an understanding of the powers and practicalities of new technologies to help champion innovation within the Royal Navy.

Core to the 12-week programme is a placement in a fast-growing startup, which will be complemented by taught course material, mentoring and workshops to provide a theoretical and practical grounding in innovation. Each fellow has been seconded to a startup to learn first hand what it’s like to develop ideas, MVPs, and scale these, the culture in the startup ecosystem and what can benefit the Navy. Startups include companies such as healthtech startup Patchwork, autonomous traffic control startup Valerann, teamwork tool Pando and global food sharing app Olio.

The fellows will also be taught about business principles and innovative thinking. Fellows will learn about commercial forecasting, modelling, market-sizing and risk. Experts in growth, marketing, PR and sales will give real life examples of channels and strategies bringing new products to market.

As they approach the end of Week 4, fellows have been spending 3 days embedded in host startups, attending team meetings, developing their own projects and gaining real-life experience of how a startup works.

For the remaining 2 days, fellows have followed a curriculum developed by PUBLIC, covering topics such as Design, Innovations in Tech, the Defence Landscape and Entrepreneurship. Feedback on the Guest Lecturers and Speakers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many fellows remarking on the high standard and profile of people delivering the Programme.  Lecturers from outside the PUBLIC team have included Gen (Rtd) Sir Chris Deverell, formerly Commander of Joint Forces, Elisabeth Braw of RUSI, and Benedict Evans, the leading Tech Analyst. 

As the programme continues we will update on the progress and journeys of the fellows.