May 20. 2024. 11:05

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NATO eyes €1bn defence innovation fund based in the Netherlands

The Netherlands will host NATO’s €1 billion-strong innovation fund, the Western military alliance and The Hague announced on Monday (20 March).

The fund, described by NATO as the “world’s first multi-sovereign venture capital fund” will invest €1 billion into developing dual-use (civilian and military) emerging and disruptive technologies over a 15-year time frame.

NATO is looking to have a “competitive edge over strategic competitors”, one alliance official told EURACTIV. With this fund, NATO is also hoping to provide an opportunity to invest in start-ups and small businesses eat the forefront of innovation.

The move aims to invest in research and development, considered a necessity by military experts if the allies wish to keep a technological edge and compete with nations such as such as China.

“Innovation in defence is essential for our security”, a NATO diplomat told EURACTIV, adding that the development of dual-use emerging technologies is a “priority” to the transatlantic military alliance.

The designation of the headquarters follows the political agreement between 22 NATO allies to create the fund at the Madrid summit last June, which will include Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The fund will “help bring to life nascent technologies that have the power to transform our security in the decades to come and to strengthen the Alliance’s innovation ecosystem”, the NATO official said.

The technologies invested in will include artificial intelligence, big-data processing, biotechnology and human enhancement, novel materials, quantum-enabled technologies as well as propulsion and space.

The exact location of the headquarters in The Netherlands is still to be determined, EURACTIV understands, although Amsterdam is considered to be lined up for hosting the new body.

In addition, regional offices will be established “across the Alliance […] given the wide geographic remit of the Fund”, NATO said in a press release. But these details have not yet been decided on, the NATO official told EURACTIV.

The 22 NATO members participating in the initiative will officially launch the fund at the alliance’s Vilnius Summit planned for 10-12 July.