Collaborating with partners to produce innovative solutions

Raytheon UK is working to create a thriving ecosystem of small and medium sized businesses

The UK government is seeking to improve access to the defence sector for small businesses as part of a wider campaign to build a sustainable and competitive aerospace and defence industry fit for the future. This requires a thriving ecosystem for SMEs to operate in, one built on a skilled workforce and shared workspace for start-ups.  Raytheon UK is partnering with the Institute for Collaborative Working to adopt a series of standards that will help make this ecosystem a reality. .

Collaboration breeds innovation. This is the case with Raytheon UK’s wide-reaching supply chains, which support thousands of careers across industry and place the company alongside a broad team of partners – particularly small and medium-sized businesses. 

Those businesses “are a vital part of the UK defence ecosystem, bringing innovation and agility to the sector,” said Graham Le Fevre, head of business development for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) at Raytheon UK. “The ability to foster and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships with innovative companies is an important part of how Raytheon UK operates.”

Raytheon UK’s work with small and medium-sized enterprises is an extension of two international standards set by the Institute for Collaborative Working, of which Raytheon UK is a founding member. The first standard, known as ISO 44001, specifies requirements for identifying, developing and managing business relationships. The other, ISO 44004, focuses on how large businesses can work effectively with smaller firms and institutions, such as startups and universities.  Both standards help companies like Raytheon UK improve their approach to collaboration. 

“ISO 44004 provides a high-level overview of how companies such as ours can effectively partner and work with SMEs – and grow their relationships, too,” Le Fevre said. “Our own accreditation is so important because more than a quarter of our partners are small businesses.  Adopting ISO 44001 and ISO 44004 means we’re aligned with international and widely recognised industry standards and, for suppliers, it offers reassurance that we follow collaborative working principles and practices.”

Thanks to Raytheon UK’s long-standing partnerships with smaller businesses, it can build on a legacy of experience and links in industry to utilise the standards and build even stronger collaborative relationships with SMEs.

“For customers, it shows that we’re putting our money where our mouth is with a relationship management plan for every firm we collaborate with”, said Le Fevre. “Along with our own collaborative charter, it cuts through the jargon to share how we’ll practically work with another company throughout a business opportunity.”

Working together towards these goals involves mutual trust.  And the best way to foster that trust is through action. As an example, in 2021, Raytheon UK along with its partners Sopra Steria, KBR and Leonardo held an event that saw more than 70 suppliers attend, network and build partnerships with like-minded firms.

“We wanted to show that our supply chains don’t operate in isolation,” said Le Fevre. “During the event, we introduced our own suppliers to other SMEs and vice versa. The idea is that if we’re happy to work with one company, others will trust our decision and be more likely to work with them, too.

“A solid relationship built on industry standards and trust means that when a project hits any issues you can work through them,” he said. “That comes with being open, honest and reiterating that collaboration is for the benefit of us all – for Raytheon UK, our suppliers and our customers.”

“Once we’ve built those relationships with our future partners, it’s then up to all of us to keep them healthy and non-transactional. That could be a spontaneous 10-minute chat, cutting through work jargon or just remembering the human side of these relationships,” Le Fevre said.

And with the adoption of internationally recognised standards such as ISO44001 and ISO44004, Raytheon UK can continue supporting SMEs and help bring further innovation to the armed forces.