The first cohort of the Percy Hobart Fellowship met in London (under Covid Regulations in bubbles of six) on Thursday September 17th to deliver the innovative startup ideas they have worked on and to celebrate their outstanding achievements over the 12-week course.

The idea of the Fellowship first came from Daniel Korski, CEO and Co-Founder of PUBLIC, and from Gen (Ret.) Sir Chris Deverell, formerly Commander of Joint Forces Command.  They pitched it to First Sea Lord Tony Radakin as a new way to drive innovation from within and accelerate the transformation of Defence, starting with the Royal Navy.

On Thursday Admiral Radakin began the day by noting the “gumption and courage” displayed by the Fellows by applying to, then completing the course, and recognising the “kudos and the responsibilities” that the Fellows now took onboard as they returned to service as the brand-new first graduate cohort.  He urged them to be the catalyst for a “new, thinking, doing, innovative Royal Navy”.

Our 22 Fellows then were joined in London by Brigadier Dan Cheesman, CTO for the Royal Navy, who watched each Fellow deliver a pitch on the idea for a startup which they have created, ideated and developed over the 12 weeks they have been studying.  Some ideas were directly related to Fellows’ work in the RN, but some were “blue-sky” ideas, designed to solve problems both faced in the RN and in the wider world.  Issues which the Fellows intend to solve include Unconscious Bias, Waste, Reducing avoidable exits from the Navy, and turning RN personnel into effective Coaches and Leaders using new Tech.

The pitches were watched remotely by over 50 Thought Leaders from the Military World, and immediate feedback and encouragement through networking, suggesting next steps and how to make these solutions active in the real-world was incredible to see.

From Monday September 21st, the Fellows will champion and advocate for innovation within the RN in support of navy transformation, identifying opportunities within traditional areas of employment, or employed in roles that target their niche skill set.

The Royal Navy’s Director of People and Training, Admiral Phil Hally, watched the Demo Day and commented that “I already knew the range of talent that we have in our organisation is breath-taking and attending the graduation reinforced my thinking.  Not defined by rank or branch or uniform, I have seen ideas flourish and now I am excited to be welcoming some of the Fellows to join our Directorate to support our transformation. Indeed, I want to invest in some of their ideas and operationalise them across the Service.”

PUBLIC is excited to follow the Fellows’ careers now that they have returned to Service, and will keep in touch via a new Alumni network.  Look out for stories here on how they are faring and deploying their new skills.