QinetiQ gets real and hands out its secrets for a price

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The Independent Online

This week QinetiQ, the formerly top-secret science business, will unveil a brace of new projects in the military and commercial sectors, demonstrating its technology in its first week as a real company.

Today three-quarters of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, part of the Ministry of Defence is being hived off to form QinetiQ plc, in preparation for partial privatisation next year.

Boffins at Dera carry out sensitive consultancy and research work for the ministry but its new format will allow it to commercially exploit the technology it develops.

Next week it will unveil plans for an "Intelligent Road Network". It is working with the Highway Agency to provide a technical infrastructure on our roads that will be able to reduce congestion using surveillance and sensing equipment. The work derives from QinetiQ's expertise in military surveillance technology and its work on military transport.

Details will also be revealed of a joint venture with Rotch, the property company. The venture, Quintel, is developing technology that will allow 3G mobile phone masts to be shared by different operators.

Dera has slowly been prepared for the tough commercial world over the past 10 years. Projects announced so far include a programme to develop 3D holograms with Ford, who will use it to cut costs in car design. A spin-off Dera company, ZBD, is currently using expertise in liquid crystal displays to develop screens for PDAs and mobile phones that will be clearer, more defined and require less energy.

QinetiQ is expected to announce further projects within the defence and commercial sectors next week.