How we innovate

Ultra has been innovating for over 100 years, and we continue to build innovation into all of our products, processes and culture.

Mission-focused innovation

We call our approach to developing the technologies and solutions of tomorrow 'mission-focused innovation'. What do we mean? It is about starting with our customers’ most challenging problems and working backwards to the technologies and solutions that will solve them.

To achieve this we need to understand what our customers really need, better than ever. That includes both their present needs, and then going one step further to understand their potential future needs. Only then can we build the technology for a safer tomorrow.

Programmes using Ultra technology solutions
Ultra workforce in engineering function
Technology investment since 2016

Solving our customer needs

The increasingly rapid pace of emerging technology and associated threats presents a great challenge to our customers. We define these challenges across four main areas:

Combatting near peer threats

Priorities are shifting away from protecting against unknown threats and counter-insurgency towards near-peer military and grey threats from technologically advanced, well funded and highly coordinated national state adversaries.

Countering asymmetric threats

Protecting against a broad and unpredictable spectrum of military, paramilitary and information operations targeting weakness in government, armed forces or supporting infrastructure. DARPA refer to this as ‘MOSAIC’ defence: fast, scalable, adaptive joint multi-domain threat monitoring and response.

Doing more with less

The changing threat environment and the need to reinvest in key areas means that RTD&E (Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation) spend will be protected in coming years. However, future solutions will not only need to be advanced and resilient, but also economical, sustainable and efficient.

Accelerating detect to deploy

Rapidly emerging threats require rapid action to outpace adversaries. In future conflicts, major decisions will need to be made within hours, minutes, or potentially seconds. Enabling these decisions means presenting the right data, in the right way, to the right people.

How we innovate

Ultra has been innovating for over 100 years, and we continue to build innovation into all of our products, processes and culture. Over the last five years, we have invested more than £750m through customer and internally-funded R&D to enhance our technology advantage. In addition, as we continue to drive and deliver transformation, we are freeing up capacity to support increased investment in Research & Development. 

Our individual business units are constantly focused on incremental developments across our technology foundation and key competencies, such as continuously enhancing the size, weight and power envelope.

Mission-focused research

At Ultra, led by our advanced concepts group Ultra Labs, we are focused on emerging and disruptive technologies.

We engage on a strategic level with our customers. It is clear that the rapidly evolving nature of the threats they face requires an accelerated technology change to develop and field solutions more rapidly than ever before.

These new solutions will have to be interoperable and potentially even interchangeable in a way that enables rapid insertion into a cognitive multi-domain data ‘fabric’ to deliver decision advantage.

Our next-generation solutions include: 

Ultra Labs

Ultra Labs is our advanced concepts and emerging technologies group. We focus on anticipating the future needs of our customers and the rapid development of innovative multi-mission solutions. We collaborate with teams from across Ultra Group, wider industry and academia to research and develop solutions that will keep our customers one step ahead.

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