Topic: Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA)

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The Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) is a NATO body working with leading researchers and entrepreneurs across the Alliance, helping them develop technologies to keep NATO populations safe and secure. With dozens of accelerator sites and test centres across the Alliance, DIANA brings together universities, industry and governments to work with start-ups and other innovators to solve critical defence and security challenges.

 

  • At the 2021 NATO Summit in Brussels, Allied Leaders agreed to launch DIANA to foster transatlantic cooperation on critical technologies, promote interoperability among Allied forces and harness civilian innovation by engaging with academia and the private sector.
  • A year later, at the 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid, all Allied Leaders endorsed the charter for DIANA and unveiled its initial footprint of test centres and accelerator sites.
  • DIANA exists to harness the opportunities presented by emerging and disruptive technologies, boosting NATO’s competitive edge in collective defence and security. Developing new capabilities will improve the Alliance’s ability to respond to conventional threats – and to the threats posed via these technologies themselves.
  • Specific technological areas of interest to DIANA include artificial intelligence (AI), autonomy, quantum technologies, biotechnologies and human enhancement, hypersonic systems, space, novel materials and manufacturing, energy and propulsion, and next-generation communications networks.
  • DIANA has a regional office in London, United Kingdom. Another regional office is being set up in Halifax, Canada, and a regional hub will soon open in Tallinn, Estonia. In addition, DIANA leverages a network of more than 10 accelerator sites and 90 test centres across the Alliance.

 

DIANA works by running competitive industry challenges. Each challenge is based on a critical defence and security problem, and asks innovators to develop deep tech dual-use technologies (i.e., technologies that are focused on commercial markets and uses, but may also have defence and security applications) to help solve it.

Innovators selected into DIANA’s programmes receive non-dilutive grants (i.e. investment capital that does not require them to give up equity or ownership in their company) and gain access to accelerator sites and test centres across the Alliance. DIANA’s accelerator sites are based at facilities or organisations that have been selected by Allies to implement the unique DIANA dual-use (commercial/defence and security) acceleration curricula. DIANA’s test centres are laboratories, testbeds or field environments that are available for testing, evaluation, validation and verification of technologies developed by innovators selected into DIANA’s challenge programmes. Accelerator sites and test centres are based in existing universities and research centres in Europe and North America, which have applied to join DIANA through their national Ministries of Defence.

Innovators also have access to a network of mentors (scientists, engineers, industry experts, end-users and government procurement experts) and a community of trusted investors. Lastly, DIANA offers pathways to market both within NATO as an organization and with NATO Allies, connecting innovators with Allied military and governmental end-users who will work with the selected companies to help them adapt their solutions to Allied military needs.

Technologies developed through DIANA may also receive funding from the NATO Innovation Fund, a EUR 1 billion venture capital fund established by a group of NATO Allies at the 2022 Madrid Summit. The world’s first multi-sovereign venture capital fund, it will invest its funding over a 15-year period in start-ups developing or adapting technologies for defence and security. The Fund will prioritise investments in companies accelerated through DIANA that are headquartered in any of the countries participating in the Fund (which currently includes 23 NATO Allies: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Türkiye and the United Kingdom).

DIANA launched its first three pilot challenge programmes in 2023. Once fully operational in 2025, DIANA will have the capacity to work with hundreds of innovators each year across an even wider network of accelerator sites and test centres throughout the Alliance.

DIANA’s Board of Directors, which held its first meeting in October 2022, is responsible for the organisational governance of DIANA. It is led by a Board Chair and is composed of one representative from each NATO member country. DIANA operates under a North Atlantic Council-approved charter and reports to the Council on its activities.

 

Evolution

June 2021
At the 2021 Brussels Summit, as part of the NATO 2030 agenda, NATO Heads of State and Government agree to launch DIANA to foster transatlantic cooperation on critical technologies, promote interoperability among Allied forces and harness civilian innovation by engaging with academia and the private sector.

April 2022
NATO Foreign Ministers endorse the charter for DIANA, which outlines its mission and strategy; legal authorities; financial mechanism; governance; and the regional offices, accelerator sites and test centres that will make up its initial footprint.

April 2022
The NATO Advisory Group on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (an independent group of 12 experts from the private sector and academia, which provides external advice to NATO on how it can optimise its innovation efforts) delivers its second annual report, for 2021. The report examines the progress made on setting up DIANA and describes how it and other initiatives are signs of real action towards technological readiness at NATO.

June 2022
At the 2022 Madrid Summit, all NATO Leaders endorse the charter for DIANA and unveil its initial footprint of test centres and accelerator sites.

March 2023
DIANA opens its European regional office at the Imperial College London Innovation Hub in London, United Kingdom.

June 2023
DIANA launches its first three pilot challenge programmes, inviting innovators to apply to its programmes.

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