17 Jun

On an uncharacteristically soggy June day some 30 World Traders and guests arrived at Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, near Bedford, to a warm welcome from its CEO, Yoge Patel, and her team. Blue Bear is a UK-based, high-tech engineering business operating primarily in the defence sector with a UK and global presence. As such, the visit fitted very well with the Master’s theme this year of “Trade and Geopolitics”.

In introducing the now 50+ person business and what they do, both Yoge and the company’s managing director, Ian Williams-Wynn, covered the range of autonomous and unmanned systems, a category which is much wider than the public perception of “drones”. The deluge of questions produced thoughtful and detailed answers that demonstrated Blue Bear’s deep expertise in the field. 

In smaller groups we were then shown around the range of “drones” designed and built for uses ranging from commercial aircraft safety inspection through to military surveillance. This included a demonstration of the technology for a “beyond line of sight” control centre being developed to allow drones to operate autonomously, away from the pilot—a vital step to allowing such drones to operate safely in a congested airspace alongside other aircraft! 

But it is clearly not just the cutting-edge technology and hardware that have built Blue Bear into such a successful company. Yoge explained her commitment to searching as widely as possible to find the people with skills needed, to maintaining a green (ie local, as far as possible) supply chain, and to motivating her team to come up with an average of one world-beating idea a year.

World Traders left with a fascinating insight in to this brave new world where UK companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, are operating at the very leading edge of a high-tech global business.  

Graham Booth