Leonardo – a global high-tech company specialising in aerospace, defence and security

Sigma houseLeonardo, Italy’s main industrial company, is one the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security. The company is organised into seven business divisions: Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne and Space Systems; Land and Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security and Information Systems.

With revenues in the UK of £2.3 billion, including £1.3 billion of exports, Leonardo makes a significant contribution to the UK economy, employing 7,400 highly skilled personnel across the country. The company invests around £200 million in Research and Development (R&D) in the UK, and continues to sustain and invest in a substantial UK supply network of around 2,300 companies.

A highly-skilled workforce

Leonardo apprenticeThe company’s site at Basildon is the headquarters for Leonardo’s UK Land and Naval Defence Electronics business. Here, nearly 1,000 people are involved in the design and development of thermal imaging systems, radar systems, radio communications, electronic warfare, infrared detection, signal processing and network systems.

A high-technology business like this depends on access to a highly-skilled workforce.

“With a storied heritage, Leonardo’s Basildon site has produced a number of world firsts including ‘TICM’, the UK’s first military standard production thermal imager, and the Phoenix unmanned military surveillance vehicle. Today, the company provides cameras and other sensors for a majority of the vehicles used by the British Army and has even sold its thermal camera technology for use in cricket via the ‘Hot Spot’ heat vision system seen on Sky Sports and by filmmakers for the BBC’s Planet Earth 2.”

Mike Gilbert, Head of Leonardo’s Basildon site, Leonardo

Investing in local community

Basildon apprenticeThe company is able to recruit most of its staff locally and is able to provide early career opportunities for the region, with a variety of business and engineering apprenticeship, graduate and placement schemes available at the site. The company works extensively with educational partners across the region to inspire the next generation to consider the career opportunities available in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Many graduate recruits also make their homes in Essex – they enjoy the quieter, rural life but like to have London so close.

“Originally sited in Basildon during its ‘New Town’ development in the 50s, Leonardo was able to take advantage of a pool of highly skilled engineers and researchers which lead to the company developing a number of breakthrough technologies. Today the company still bases its competitive edge on having technology that is often world-leading, so having access to the Essex area’s population of degree-educated engineering, maths and science professionals are absolutely crucial.”

Mike Gilbert, Head of Leonardo’s Basildon site, Leonardo

Essex location advantages

Being a global business, Leonardo benefits greatly from Essex’s strategic location and excellent national and international transport links.

"As a part of an international company with a commercial footprint outside of the UK, our Basildon facility also benefits from good transport links to London’s airports and the new link between Southend Airport and Edinburgh, where another key Leonardo site is situated.”

Mike Gilbert, Head of Leonardo’s Basildon site, Leonardo

Leonardo officeThe Basildon site is just a short drive from Tilbury Docks and the London Gateway container port, which is one of the UK’s most important hubs, enhancing the economic competitiveness of Essex businesses even further.

Leonardo (formerly trading as SELEX Galileo) has a long, proud history in Essex and is using that strength to maintain its position in fiercely-competitive global markets.

See here for more information on Leonardo.

Simon Papworth
Simon Papworth

Inward Investment Manager (High-Technology Cluster)

+44 (0) 7515 199255


Simon has worked in inward investment for the last four years, building a wide network of trusted business connections, working on a variety of successful projects in the advanced manufacturing sector. Prior to this, Simon spent 7 years advising business owners and entrepreneurs, with a focus on bringing innovative products to market.