NATO and Ukraine deepen innovation cooperation at the NATO-Ukraine Defence Innovators Forum

  • 04 Jun. 2024 - 06 Jun. 2024
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  • Last updated: 07 Jun. 2024 09:54

On 4-6 June, NATO and Ukraine took further steps to enhance cooperation to address most pressing technological challenges in the defence and security.

More than 400 innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, researchers and operational end users from 17 countries, including more than 100 startups, took part in the three-day NATO-Ukraine Defence Innovators Forum at AGH University of Krakow, Poland. The event was organized in partnership with Ukraine government defence innovation platform BRAVE1, the U.S. Defence Innovation Unit (DIU), and the Polish Ministry of National Defence.

Discussions notably focused on the challenges that Ukraine faces with the rapid development, production and use of uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and counter-UAS systems. The Forum also included a hackathon with live flight testing for drone software, investor pitching sessions, and interactive panel sessions. With generous support from the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit and National Security Innovation Network, the hackathons winners received prize totalling USD 100,000. For the first time, Ukrainian innovators were also able to access some of the accelerator work developed for the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) and get real-time feedback from NATO Innovation Fund.

The aim is to bring NATO and Ukrainian innovation ecosystems closer together to keep pace with fast-evolving dual-use technologies. In May 2023, NATO and Ukraine had held their first High-Level Innovation Dialogue at NATO Headquarters.

“The energy for more collaboration between Ukrainian and Allied innovation ecosystems was contagious, and is exactly why Allies and Ukraine are working together on a new innovation agreement in the NATO-Ukraine Council,” said David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Innovation, Hybrid and Cyber.

Nataliia Kushnerska, Chief Operating Officer of BRAVE1, praised the benefit of such two-way innovation. “We believe that Ukraine is a central hub for defence technology innovation. Ukrainian experience in technology and warfare, combined with Allied expertise, has potential to be the technological foundation for a safer and more secure Europe”, she said.

Major General Edward Vaughan, Executive Director of the U.S. Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment underscored the life-engaging importance of innovation as war rages in Ukraine for the third consecutive year. “Ukraine’s brave men and women are fighting to defend themselves and our shared values” he said. “Their people’s innovative spirit drives rapid technology adoption, proving why collaboration is essential.”