The Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) has for many years been the focus within the Ministry of Defence for research on electronic materials and devices. This research has led to a number of successful transfers of technology to industry with tangible benefits accruing to the economy of the U.K. Specific examples are described, covering liquid crystals, semiconductors, pyroelectrics and materials processing, together with an example outside the field of electronic materials: photon-correlation spectroscopy. The route followed for commercial exploitation is outlined in each case, and an attempt made to quantify the benefits of the impact of this research originally paid for by the U.K. defence budget. The paper concludes with a brief description of an initiative that has been taken recently to foster commercial exploitation of the research work done in defence R & D establishments.