12/08/2016 00:01 BST | Updated 12/08/2017 06:12 BST

Defence Initiative Using 'Brightest Brains To Keep Us Ahead Of Our Adversaries'

Laser weapons, virtual reality helmets and dragonfly-inspired surveillance drones are among futuristic technology set to be backed by the Government's new defence innovation initiative.

The scheme, launched on Friday, will transform how the Armed Forces deal with the defence and security challenges of tomorrow.

It is hoped that the scheme will enhance the Ministry of Defence's creative culture so that the military maintains its advantage.

The initiative will support cutting-edge technology such as sensors that use gravity to survey underground structures in minutes and mobile robots that can inspect incidents involving chemical materials.

It will also encourage individuals and companies to pitch ideas to a Dragons' Den-style panel which has a fund of around £800 million over 10 years.

There will be a defence and security accelerator to ensure that solutions to national security challenges are in development quickly, while an Innovation and Research Insights Unit will anticipate emerging trends in technology and analyse their implications.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "This new approach will help to keep Britain safe while supporting our economy, with our brightest brains keeping us ahead of our adversaries.

"Backed by a defence budget that will rise every year until the end of the decade, it will ensure that the UK maintains its military advantage in an increasingly dangerous world."