Opening of the NATO DIANA innovation accelerator brought defence experts and entrepreneurs from around the world to Estonia
On 11 January at the Tehnopol Science and Business Park, the NATO DIANA Estonian Accelerator was officially opened and nine companies that will start developing their ideas here presented solutions they have in the works.
The Tehnopol Startup Incubator in Tallinn is one of five initial locations, where the NATO DIANA innovation accelerators are being opened in its pilot year. Across the Alliance, over 1300 companies applied for participation in the accelerator, which will develop dual use technologies. The final selection included 44 companies, of which 9 will start developing their concepts in Estonia. All companies included in the accelerator will receive a grant of 100 000 euros, and the best among them have the opportunity to receive up to 300 000 euros in addition.
Expressing his gladness in seeing the NATO DIANA innovation accelerator finally opening in Estonia, Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur said, “I hope that you take the energy in your pitches and bring the potential to life as soon as possible. Looking around here today, I see immense capacity to make a difference not only on the battlefield, but also in the civil sector.”
Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Ahti Kuningas highlighted the strength of DIANA in support of developing dual use technologies. “Estonia is known for startups and the knowledge specific to them will certainly be useful in launching DIANA as well. We have great expectations for solutions to better ensuring energy supply through the use of hardware, software and cyber solutions, but also through sharing knowledge about undersea infrastructure and artificial object surveillance or secure data exchange.”
According to the Head of the Tehnopol Startup Incubator and the NATO DIANA Estonian Accelerator Kadri Tammai, it is already clear that among the 9 companies there are several examples of cyber defence technologies that would be useful for Estonian critical infrastructure owners and that can also provide security in case of attacks against quantum computers. “In addition, over the next six months we will support technologies in the accelerator that will allow for mapping the seabed and scan it more precisely than before, as well as innovative ultra-light alternative energy cells for drones,” explained Tammai.
CEO of Tehnopol Indrek Orav said that the hard work has come to fruition and he is glad that Tehnopol has the honour of being among the first to start bringing the DIANA accelerator programme to life. “This unique symbiosis of a programme created for companies, test centres and direct financing provides fertile ground for the rapid development of innovative technologies. With its more than 20 years of experience in supporting startups and already established companies, Tehnopol is sure to support the emergence of new success stories within the DIANA programme companies as well. Our team and network of experts and mentors is ready for the challenge and will put forth their best effort,” said Orav.
The nine companies that will develop their ideas in the Estonian accelerator are GaltTec, Lobster Robotics, GIM Robotics, Revobeam, AVoptics, Dronetag, Icewind, Anzen Technology Systems and Goldilock. At the opening, SmartCap introduced financing opportunities for dual-use companies and the NATO DIANA Innovation Fund. In addition, the German company Helsing and Estonian companies Defendec and Milrem shared their success stories in the defense sector.
The accelerator in Estonia is led by the Tehnopol Startup Incubator together with the Sparkup Tartu Science Park and the business accelerator Startup Wise Guys. The funding to start the accelerator in Estonia comes from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the city of Tallinn. Estonian contributors to building the pan-Alliance network of testing centres are TalTech, the University of Tartu, Foundation CR14, the National Defence College, the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, and the Estonian Aviation Academy.