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A new center in Krakow will support innovations for NATO by connecting startups and scientists with the defense sector

SECURITYA new center in Krakow will support innovations for NATO by connecting startups and scientists with the defense sector

The main goal of the accelerator, which is being established in Krakow, is to integrate top scientists and technological startups with companies in the defense and military sectors. It will be part of NATO’s DIANA network, which is designed to foster the development of technologies that serve both defense and the civilian market in NATO allied countries. Experts are counting on solutions that utilize artificial intelligence, drones, and quantum technologies. For the sector, this presents an opportunity to acquire global-scale innovations, and for startups, a chance to enter foreign markets and secure funding for global development.

“The main goal of the DIANA accelerator is to acquire dual-use technologies from the civilian market, which we can use both in civilian life and for defense purposes. The launch of the DIANA accelerator in Krakow is a very positive signal for the startup environment in Poland and for the defense environment in Poland,” says Col. Michał Żołnierowicz, Head of the International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of National Defense.

The DIANA network consists of 23 accelerators and 182 test centers in 28 allied countries. One of its objectives is to work on new solutions in the field of deep tech. It is under the jurisdiction of the North Atlantic Council, the principal decision-making body in NATO.

Among the Polish institutions that have decided to cooperate within the DIANA network are the Krakow Technology Park and the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow. By joining this initiative, they have offered, among other things, a modern incubation and acceleration program. The location is also attractive. For years, Krakow has attracted many companies that decide to conduct research and development projects in the Royal City, including those based on modern technologies.

“This will be a platform where we can exchange information between startups, technology companies, and the end user, namely the military and soldiers. They will present their needs, the challenges they face, and the defense entities that will later be able to implement the technologies offered by the startups in military equipment provided to soldiers,” explains Col. Michał Żołnierowicz.

Participation in the NATO organization DIANA is an opportunity for Polish entities to access the entire transatlantic innovation network. One of the network’s principles is the possibility of establishing business relationships between companies from different countries belonging to the North Atlantic Alliance. Entities developing dual-use technologies (civilian and military) that have registered operations in a North Atlantic Treaty Organization country can apply to the accelerator.

“The accelerator will give them the opportunity to understand the requirements and challenges posed by the military, and they will receive financial resources of up to 400,000 euros to adapt their technology to military needs. Subsequently, innovators will have the opportunity to collaborate with capital funds. One of these is the NATO Innovation Fund, which Poland also participates in. One of its tasks will be to monitor startups that have been accelerated in DIANA. If these startups fit the portfolio of a given capital fund, further development of these technologies for both civilian and military markets may be funded by such a fund,” the expert explains.

The areas of interest for the DIANA network include technologies such as artificial intelligence, space technologies, quantum technologies, autonomous technologies, big data, hypersonic technologies, as well as biotechnology and technologies that enhance the human body.

The accelerator also offers several benefits for the “ordering” side.

“Thanks to participation in DIANA, and because we will have our accelerator, an innovation hub in Krakow, the military will have access to civilian technology companies, which we did not have access to before. We were not aware that there was such a rich startup and technology environment in Poland. So, this hub will be an access point for us, for the Ministry of National Defense, a window to these civilian companies, and for technology companies, it will be access to our requirements,” assesses Col. Michał Żołnierowicz.

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