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Defence Science and Technology Laboratory


Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Agency overview
Formed 2 July 2001
Preceding Agency Defence Evaluation and Research Agency
Jurisdiction United Kingdom
Headquarters Porton Down, Wiltshire
Employees 3,636 (2009/10 average)
Agency executive Jonathan Lyle
Parent agency Ministry of Defence

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom. Responsibility for it lies with the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, currently Philip Dunne.[1] Its Board is chaired by Sir Richard Mottram.[2]

Its stated purpose is "to maximise the impact of science and technology for the defence and security of the UK."[3]


  • History 1
  • Organisation 2
  • Operations 3
  • Current locations 4
  • Spin-offs 5
    • Ploughshare Innovations 5.1
  • See also 6
  • Notes and references 7
  • External links 8


In July 2001, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) was split into two parts, Dstl and Qinetiq. Dstl was established to carry out science and technology work that is best done within government,[4] while the majority and that suitable for industry was transferred to QinetiQ, a wholly owned government company before being floated on the stock exchange.


Dstl is a trading fund owned by the Secretary of State for Defence. Most funding comes from the Ministry of Defence, with a small portion comes from other government departments and commercial sources. According to 2012/13 figures, 93% of Dstl's income comes from MOD.[5]

From its creation in 2001 the Chief Executive was Martin J Earwicker until he left in 2006 for the Science Museum.[6] Dr Frances Saunders took over as acting Chief Executive in May 2006[7] and was appointed as Chief Executive in August 2007.[8][9]

On 29 June 2011 Dr Saunders announced to staff that her post had been advertised and that she would not be applying.[10] On 13 December 2011 the MOD announced that Jonathan Lyle, Director of the Programme Office at Dstl, would replace Dr Saunders in March 2012.[11]

Dstl consists of the following operational departments:[5]

  • Air and Weapons Systems
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Detection
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Information Management
  • Joint Systems
  • Land Battlespace Systems
  • Naval Systems
  • Physical Sciences
  • Policy and Capability Studies
  • Security Sciences
  • Sensors and Countermeasures


Dstl carries out a broad range of work from high-level analysis to support Ministry of Defence policy and procurement decisions, to technical research in defence areas such as biomedical science and electronics, alongside operational work such as forensic analysis of explosives[12] and providing paid volunteer scientists to Iraq and Afghanistan to provide rapid scientific advice to British forces. It has done work for around 40 government departments and agencies including the Home Office and Department for Transport.[13] It undertakes research with both industry and academia to achieve its role.[14]

Following a review and consultation process initiated by MOD's Chief Scientific Advisor, it become responsible for the formulation and commission of MOD's non-nuclear research programme from 1 Apr 2010, under the responsibility of the DST Programme Office.[15][16] Within the Programme Office are 16 domains [17] with some established as Science and Technology Centres, including Armour and Protection, Cyber and Influence, Counter Terrorism, and CBR (Chemical, Biological and Radiological).[18] These centres fund research via the Centre for Defence Enterprise,[19] also part[20] of the Programme Office.

Current locations

Sites include:


Ploughshare Innovations

In April 2005[22] the technology transfer company Ploughshare Innovations Ltd was formed to manage and exploit intellectual property within Dstl.[23] Dstl and Ploughshare Innovations have successfully spun-out several new companies including Acolyte Biomedica Ltd (since acquired by 3m Medical Diagnostics Ltd), Alaska Food Diagnostics Ltd,[24] Enigma Diagnostics Ltd, Lucigen Ltd, ProKyma Technologies Ltd, Sherwood Therapeutics and P2i Ltd.

See also

  • The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP) – an international defence science and technology collaboration between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • DARPA – US Defence Agency responsible for the development of new technology for the US military.
  • Defence Science and Technology Organisation – a branch of the Australian Department of Defence that researches and develops technologies for the Australian defence industry.
  • Qinetiq - the part of Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) privatised in June 2001, with the remainder of DERA renamed Dstl.

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology (including Defence Exports)".  
  2. ^ "Dstl Board". Dstl. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "About us". Dstl. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ "MoD searches for a new James Bond-style Q".  
  7. ^ "House of Commons - Defence - Minutes of Evidence". 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Gilbert, Natasha (20 November 2007). "Interview: Frances Saunders | Education | The Guardian".  
  10. ^ Global email to all staff dated 29/6/11
  11. ^ "Jonathan Lyle named as new Dstl Chief Executive".  
  12. ^ Gardham, Duncan (11 July 2007). "'We've never seen a bomb like 21/7 devices'".  
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "The Strategic Defence and Security Review and The National Security Strategy". 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  16. ^ "Dstl to become the key focus of science and technology within MOD" (Press release).  
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Centre for Defence Enterprise".  
  20. ^ "The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)".  
  21. ^ DSTL Press Release dated 17/6/2011
  22. ^ "House of Commons - Defence - Eighth Report". 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  23. ^ "Ploughshare Innovations - Intellectual Property Licensing for Dstl - Ploughshare". 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Stewart, Heather (4 May 2004). "MoD tries to turn swords into shares | Business | The Guardian".  

External links

  • Official website
  • Ploughshare Innovations

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