NATO’s Technological Competition Will Address Actual Security Issues

NATO's Technological Competition

NATO is gearing up to launch its military technology accelerator, which will use competition-style initiatives to assist the alliance address new technological challenges.

The Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) initiative’s first “challenges” will launch this autumn, NATO said on March 22. Competitors will face off in challenges that mimic real-world security situations, such as working in a GPS-denied area, as previously revealed by organizers.

In the middle of 2023, there will be a call for participants to apply for the challenges, and for each task, 30 people will be chosen. NATO predicts that by 2025, the program will be fully functioning, with an increasing number of challenges and recipients each year.

Once contracts are finalized, the following five accelerator locations will host the first competitions:

  • In Tallinn, Estonia, at Tehnopol.
  • In Turin, Italy, at Officine Grandi Riparazioni.
  • The BioInnovation Institute in Denmark’s capital city of Copenhagen.
  • The Boston MassChallenge in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Seattle, Washington’s Pacific Northwest Mission Acceleration Center.

In April of 2022, NATO countries will officially begin the DIANA program with an initial investment of €1 billion (about $1.1 billion). Artificial intelligence, large data processing, energy and propulsion, autonomy, space, biotechnology, hypersonics, and quantum breakthroughs are all areas where the alliance hopes to increase transatlantic collaboration with the aid of DIANA.

In addition to providing funding for startups working on projects important to NATO, DIANA will establish a network to assist those working in the field of military and national security.

Energy resilience, safe information exchange, and sensing and surveillance were approved as 2023 technological priorities by the DIANA board of directors in December 2022.

Scientist and U.S. Department of Energy official Barbara McQuiston serves as the deputy chief technology officer. Secretary of Defense, chairs the board. Vice Chair Imre Porkoláb is the Ministerial Commissioner for Defense Innovation in the Hungarian Ministry of Defense.

Two additional accelerator sites in North America and twenty-eight new “deep-tech test centers” have just been approved by the board. On March 22, the alliance announced that 91 testing facilities, including 11 accelerator sites, had joined the network. NATO officials anticipate that this footprint will continue to expand.

At present, European accelerator facilities may be found in the cities of London, England; Copenhagen, Denmark; Brussels, Belgium; Tallinn, Estonia; Turin, Italy; Prague, Czech Republic; Ankara, Turkey; Lisbon, Portugal; and Athens, Greece; and Heraklion, Crete. Two American locations for particle accelerators may be found in Boston and Seattle.

According to NATO, France plans to provide DIANA with access to a network of national technological accelerators drawn from throughout France’s domestic innovation industry.

To date, the governments of Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States have all expressed interest in establishing connections between their respective national testing infrastructures and DIANA.

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