Plextek Consulting

Driving innovation

Serving a diverse range of market sectors, technology consultants Plextek Consulting has built a successful reputation throughout the UK based on strong relationships

Founded in 1989, Plextek Consulting has developed over the years to become a leading design and manufacturing consultancy group with major clients operating within defence and security, medical, automotive, wireless communications and autonomous systems sectors. As the trusted partner of choice for more than 300 commercial clients, government agencies and start-up companies, the company serves customers such as the MoD, Thales, QinetiQ, BAE Systems, Ofcom and TDK. CEO, Simon Cassia reflects on one project that raised the company to a new level, both in terms of its size and experience: “Plextek Consulting won against a significant tier one competitor for its first design and manufacturing contract with a US corporation by providing a pioneering solution where innovation enabled a very attractive business model. By the time the customer had built its own engineering and manufacturing capability six years later, we had manufactured five million complex, in-vehicle devices. The experience gained in the relationship provided a great springboard from which to offer the same service to other customers, and Plextek now performs this dual technical design service/manufacturing role for several companies.”

Central to the company’s culture is its ability to innovate, taking an idea from concept to market. Supported by a strong network of suppliers, commercial partners and research organisations, Plextek Consulting is able to offer an appealing and competitive service to all of its markets. Commenting on the strengths of the business, Simon says: “It is simply innovation and real world manufacturing experience. We innovate in two key areas: technology and business model. It is the execution of the solution through manufacturing experience that has gained the company its reputation for on-function, on-time and on-budget delivery.”

One significant industry for Plextek is security and defence. Over the last three years the company has won 19 MoD innovation projects, putting it in a leading position within the UK. It has also received its second Raytheon SpaRK (SME Partnerships Advancing Raytheon Knowledge) award. “Plextek Consulting has found Raytheon’s approach to innovation very refreshing,” notes Simon. “Like several other companies, including the UK MoD, Raytheon holds R&D competitions to link into the latest thinking in the industry. These are high risk and potentially high reward projects, therefore Raytheon can be confident that we have the capability to progress the innovation all the way through to manufacture and in-service support.”

The synergies gained from joining forces with major companies on a collaborative innovation and R&D model are highly significant in the ever-changing technological landscape. Commenting on the importance of such relationships Richard Daniel, CEO of Raytheon UK says: “We believe that building collaborative R&D relationships with this community will enable us to deliver innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of our customers across our sectors. In exchange they will gain access to challenging markets, paths to exploitation and relationships with primes, which include guidance and networking.”

Raytheon’s most recent award to Plextek was for addressing the need for a technology to provide dismounted soldiers with a reliable estimate of their position in a GPS-denied environment. “The technology involved integrating inertial sensors within soldiers’ boots. The sensors within a group of dismounted soldiers are able to communicate and share information with each other, improving the overall positional accuracy of each soldier.” The system was developed from the company’s work on precise navigation and timing, which was initially demonstrated by unmanned underwater vehicles, as part of the company’s unveiling in October 2014 of five new unmanned technology developments. Amongst other systems introduced were electronically steerable antennas for small UAS, selective video compression and video technology for remotely piloted systems, which improve the communication reliability of video feeds, and counter-UAS and local airspace monitoring solutions.

Outside the defence industry, Plextek is playing an instrumental role in improving automotive safety in accordance with the rise of connected vehicles. “No such awareness exists for what is arguably a dangerous threat: attacks on the networks and systems inside vehicles,” highlights Simon. “It is clear that cyber security on these systems needs to be absolute, or the risk to occupants and pedestrians could be extreme. We have recognised this weakness and have been instrumental in the creation of a new consortium focused on cyber security for connected vehicles. Its members are looking to define the threats, classify the security needs and then consider how to solve those needs.”

Over the past years, Plextek has been able to maintain its strong reputation and competitive position in the market, despite challenging economic conditions. “The diversity of our activities has ensured the company is extremely resilient and it has emerged from the most recent economic turbulence as a much stronger organisation,” concludes Simon. “As we look forward, going into 2016, our defence and medical divisions will be building on existing client engagements and focus on the scaling up of project sizes. We will also start executing a number of product designs as part of new relationships in which Plextek will be the manufacturing and supply partner. Ultimately, with technology and product innovation as the bedrock of our business, the aim in the next five years shall be to develop our client relationships that will lead to scalability, both in terms of capability through partner collaboration and in revenue through manufacturing and supply.”

Plextek Consulting.
Services: One of Europe’s largest independent technology consultancies
Sites: Great Chesterford, UK
Employees: 100+