Thales in the UK delivers research, technology and innovation with partners in academia and industry

Thales teams across the UK strive to improve performance and innovate and deliver greater value for our customers. The world is changing and we need to respond to the pace of external technology change.

Our Research and Development (R&D) focuses on close coordination around a few strategic themes to catalyse growth through innovation. Our innovation eco-system relies on the right mix of capabilities and skills, agility, and appetite for risk and change.

An open innovation model for emerging technologies

By applying a model of open innovation, Thales in the UK works across the full spectrum of emerging technologies in partnerships with Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), in more than 80 locations around the world.

We conduct research to de-risk solutions, working closely with customers to identify solutions to their problems.

Working with the academic community

We also work hand-in-hand with the academic research community. Our current model supports:

  • 50 PhD/EngD students
  • 15 centres for doctoral training
  • Participation in 30 industrial advisory panels
  • Six visiting professors with our university partners in the UK

Thales in the UK innovation events

Thales in the UK also runs activities to encourage everyone to become a part of our future:

  • Innovations days
  • Hackathons
  • Innovation Sprints

We encourage participants to submit ideas for the next generation of technology.

Key figures

£50m +
per annum invested in research and development
in the UK for Business-University Research Collaboration

Innovation Sprint

Tackling unregulated drone flying with an Innovation Sprint

Thales in the UK recently held an 'Innovation Sprint' at our Research Technology & Innovation (RTI) offices in Reading. Experts from around the business came together for four days to find a solution to unregulated drone flying.

The Innovation Sprint is our way of finding viable solutions to highly complicated problems. With efficiency at its core, the Innovation Sprint aims to brainstorm, solve and prototype solutions to all manner of problems as quickly and effectively as possible.

Engaging with stakeholders

In order to tackle unregulated drone flying, we held discussions with stakeholders, including the Police, Heathrow Airport and aviation lawyers, to get to the root of the problem.

We are now in a position to take forward the outcome of this Sprint and turning the ideas into a reality. 

Design Sprint

Asking the big questions at the Farnborough Air Show on future technology for the aviation industry

As part of our presence at the Farnborough Air Show in 2016, Thales in the UK hosted a two-day live Design SPRINT.

The theme for the event was engaging the broad range of industry at the show around the question “What are the drivers for change that may disrupt the aviation industry?”

Over the course of the two-day SPRINT, the UK Research and Technology Team [RTI] was able to discuss the question with a wide variety of trade visitors and their spread of views on the topic was collated.

Interrogating the data to reveal new questions

By assembling the collected information and putting it into a coherent set of outcomes, the team then looked at two further questions:

How can we turn engineers into heroes?

How might we help the public trust autonomous systems?

The first set of results many Farnborough visitors tackled the social, softer impacts of autonomy in aviation, rather than the technology itself.

Detailed outputs from the SPRINT will be used within the Thales in the UK business to help provide solutions to our markets’ needs.


Thales Research and Technology

Leading a global community of researchers to develop cutting-edge technology for our customers

Thales in the UK Research and Technology (TRT-UK) is part of a global network of research centres offering complete solutions to a wider range of civil and defence customers, using innovative and cutting-edge technology to give our customers a competitive edge.

We underpin all our work with our “Secure by Design” thinking. Our key technical themes are prioritised around:
  • Sensing
  • Data fusion and analysis
  • Advanced networking and communications
  • Autonomous systems
  • Complex systems

Forging stronger international links with research organisations

TRT-UK leverages the international network within the Thales research community in the UK, France, Netherlands, Singapore and Canada.

We are geared towards forging strong links with leading scientific bodies, SME’s and other research organisations to drive the potential for innovation that underpins the company’s growth.

Thales in the UK engaging with academic institutions

Principal activities within our academic engagement programme includes a portfolio of 50 doctoral students, participation as partners in various Research Council funded projects and programmes and participation in a number of Industrial Advisory Panels at various Universities in the UK.


Using innovation and Design Thinking to imagine disruptive technological of the future

Research Technology and Innovation teams within Thales in the UK understand and help shape the trends that will change our markets in the future, finding opportunities for growing new businesses in Thales.

Nurturing emerging ideas

Our aim at Thales in the UK is to support the incubation of new offerings, technologies and strategies that may lead to new ideas for transformative or disruptive technologies that solve customers’ strategic challenges.

The implementation of Open Innovation enables us to work in new, collaborative ways:
  • Increasing value from customer and supply chain relationships
  • Anticipating and reducing technical and market risks
  • Improving operational efficiency
  • Securing our pipeline for the future

The Open Innovation model is based on three pillars:

  • The academic ecosystem, including internal experts and universities
  • Industrial ecosystem, including SMEs and entrepreneurs
  • Innovation Hubs that engage customers in collaborative solution creation.

Thales in the UK design centres for design thinking

Within Thales in the UK, Research Technology and Innovation teams have also adopted the use of Design Centres, a Thales platform dedicated to user-centred, design-driven innovation.

Design Centres operate under the principles of Design Thinking, an innovation framework and methodology, primarily focused on a core set of principles:
  • Product Innovation: user research, fast prototyping and experimentation     
  • Service Design: Next generation services through design thinking
  • Business model innovation: developing new business models and value propositions
  • Transformation projects: identifying stakes, challenges, constraints and end goals
  • Training: Design Thinking, creative leadership, service design and storytelling