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 ninth week of running the programme, here’s an update on what the fellowship is and how it’s been going so far.

In the most recent weeks, The Fellows have been studying Innovation, Growth and Marketing. 

Our friends at Apolitical designed and delivered a bespoke programme on Digital Transformation for Public Servants. The Fellows were really enthusiastic about the way this was tailored to their studies on interaction between digital solutions and their roles in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Lots of lessons were learned which can be taken back to Service.

We have been delighted to welcome more high-calibre guest speakers from the Military, Tech and Startup worlds. The Fellows singled out Douglas Kim, Chief of Staff at Babylon Health, as a stand out. We heard from Douglas about Babylon’s challenges in facing the Covid Crisis, and how he himself used the experiences as a Military Veteran to form his thinking on how to tackle the changing world.

Speakers from DASA and DARE, the initiatives within the Royal Navy for innovations and ideas for Defence, came to tell Fellows about how their own projects and ideas can be shared and potentially developed to align with problems already identified within the Service.

During the past nine weeks, the Fellows have been embedded within host Startups, and many of these companies came to present their pitches to R Adm Hally and Royal Navy CTO, Dan Cheesman. The Fellows were able to get inspiration for their own pitches, which they will deliver on Graduation on September 17th.

Finally, Week 8 rounded off with a talk from Professor Anthony Finkelstein, Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security, HM Government and from Alex Fox, Managing Partner, The National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF).

Feedback from Fellows: “Great to hear from such senior and knowledgeable people within national security. Helped contextualise why we’re doing the learning. I really felt that Alex and Anthony got the value the course is going to bring back to Defence”.

We asked the Fellows for their reflections on the course thus far:

“The last 9 weeks have been highly enjoyable, with all the Fellows starting to reach levels of mental saturation not possible from within Defence. The startup placement has allowed me to experience how products and change can be achieved at pace. This initial understanding of how you can lead people to become proud of working like this and being emotionally committed to the product and team is something I hope to bring back into the Royal Navy and instil in others. Personally the most inspiring part so far has been the confirmation that the skills, learning and experience I have gained within some of the DDaT roles over the Fellowship will enable me to add real value into product teams within Royal Navy organisations like NELSON and DARE. This upskilling of military personnel will hopefully pave the way to a more sustainable solution on the journey of digital transformation towards a Digital Royal Navy of 2025.”

Morgan Long, Royal Navy 

“The Fellowship has been a tremendous opportunity to cultivate a really unique and invaluable set of skills. We’ve received some of the very best tuition on everything from product design and development, growth, marketing and finance to defence capability management and driving innovation from within. What has really made this experience stand out, however, is the paradigm shift in thinking about problem solving. Meeting innovators, receiving mentorship and working with the start-up, OLIO, has really shown me the rapid impact that can be made by relatively small cross-functional teams, and that we can learn a lot from how startups do their business. By taking a digitally focused, user-centred and incremental approach in defence, we can take a new path in the delivery of capability, iterating to meet the frontline users’ needs as they change in a rapidly evolving battle space.”

Eddie Devine, Royal Navy

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