Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur visited the NATO DIANA branch headquarters and accelerator at the Tehnopol campus

From the left: Indrek Orav, Hanno Pevkur, Kadri Tammai, Getter Oper, Kusti Salm

On September 20th, a delegation from the Estonian Ministry of Defence, led by Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur, visited the NATO DIANA branch headquarters located at the Tehnopol campus and the DIANA accelerator’s coworking centre at Tehnopol Startup Incubator. The delegation met with both Kadri Tammai, the head of NATO DIANA Estonia accelerator, and Indrek Orav, the CEO of Tehnopol Science and Business Park.

The Defence Minister had previously emphasized that this is an extremely important step in supporting and developing innovation in the defence industry of our allies. The accelerator, set to operate at Tehnopol, will bring together talented ideas, researchers, and technology companies to create the best solutions for the defence sector.

The application period for the first batch of the NATO DIANA accelerator ended on August 25th, with over 1300 applications received from across the alliance.

According to Kadri Tammai, the record number of applicants demonstrates that the start-up world sees increasing potential in the defence industry, and the value proposition of the accelerator clearly resonates with high-tech start-ups. “We’ve even been asked if there’s a catch to all of this, because the participation and IP-free grant funding in the hundreds of thousands, along with access to the world’s best testing centres, seems too good to be true. I can assure you, there’s no catch, and we are actively preparing to welcome the companies coming to Estonia across the alliance,” Tammai added.

Estonia is among the first five accelerators opening its doors in the pilot year. The accelerator is led by Tehnopol Startup Incubator in collaboration with Tartu Science Park and Startup Wise Guys. The arrival of NATO DIANA in Estonia is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the City of Tallinn.

The DIANA accelerator programme will start in December. The exact number of Estonian start-ups selected is not yet certain, but we are rooting for all of them. What is certain, however, is that Estonia will host deep-tech companies with high potential for dual-use technology development.

NATO DIANA contributes to solving global problems through collaboration between the public sector, science, and business, supporting deep-tech companies whose solutions are usable in both the civilian and defence sectors. The DIANA innovation accelerator provides grants of up to €400,000, access to over 90 testing centres across the alliance, high-quality training programmes, and mentorship to help developers of breakthrough technologies reach a broad international network of the world’s largest clients and investors. The DIANA accelerator in Estonia is led by Tehnopol Startup Incubator.

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