Tehnopol to serve as the operator of the NATO innovation accelerator DIANA in cooperation with the Tartu Science Park
The Science and Business Park Tehnopol and the Tartu Science Park will begin work this month as the operators of the NATO innovation accelerator DIANA, and the accelerator will open its doors next year.
“This is an extremely important step that we are taking with our Allies in terms of supporting and developing innovation in the defence industry. The accelerator, which will begin operating in Tehnopol, will bring together talented ideas, researchers and technology companies to create the best solutions for the field of defence,” said Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur.
The Minister of Defence added that the development of new products and technologies in the field of defence is expensive and difficult. “Therefore, our goal is that the accelerator would help complex ideas reach development and use. However, the most important thing here is that the products being developed are usable, both for civilian and defence purposes,” Pevkur explained.
“As a hotbed for new ideas and solutions, Tehnopol and the Tartu Science Park together are ideal. The accelerator will certainly enable Estonian entrepreneurs to develop their products and business models and to enter the market with necessary and innovative solutions for the defence sector. In addition, it will create new opportunities and help to find cooperation partners in the defence market across the Alliance, which is normally closed and has a high entry barrier,” said Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Kristjan Järvan.
According to Kadri Tammai, Tehnopol Startup Incubator Manager, the opening of the NATO Innovation Accelerator is of landmark importance in the development of the local start-up ecosystem and matches well with Tehnopol’s goal of supporting world-changing technologies. “Estonia is internationally known as a rapidly developing digital country, but we increasingly need to contribute to solving global problems in cooperation between science and business. The accelerator aims to provide support to early stage high-tech start-ups across the region, to help them reach the world’s largest customers and investors through a broad international network,” Tammai said.
The DIANA accelerator combines several testing centers for new technologies in Estonia: University of Tartu, TalTech, the cyber range CR14, and the Estonian Military Academy. All companies participating in the accelerator will also be able to use ca 70 NATO test centres.
In addition, Estonia, in cooperation with the United Kingdom, will create DIANA’s European headquarters. One of the branches of these headquarters will start operating in Estonia in the first half of next year.
The decision to create the NATO innovation accelerator DIANA was taken in June 2021. The accelerator aims to bring together the strengths of allies in developing and deploying new and disruptive technologies for the benefit of the defence and security of the Alliance.
In cooperation with representatives from the Estonian Ministry of Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Economic Affairs and Communications, universities and the private sector, Estonia, together with the United Kingdom, submitted an application for the programme, which was approved in full on the proposal of the NATO Secretary General. Working together, Estonia and the United Kingdom will establish DIANA’s European headquarters, a NATO start-up accelerator will be established in Estonia, and accelerators, a network of test centres and a database of reliable capital will be established for start-ups across the Alliance within the framework of DIANA.
At the NATO Summit in Madrid at the end of June, 22 Member States, including Estonia, signed the NATO Innovation Fund agreement, which includes funding in the total amount of EUR 1 billion. The fund aims to support dual-use deep-tech start-ups with investments by providing reliable capital and creating additional growth opportunities.