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Kraków to Host Polish Branch of NATO’s Defense Innovation Accelerator Network

SECURITYKraków to Host Polish Branch of NATO's Defense Innovation Accelerator Network

On March 14, 2024, a new map of NATO Defense Innovation Accelerators was announced as part of the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) program. According to this, the University of Science and Technology (AGH) in Krakow and the Krakow Technology Park will jointly run the Polish branch of the NATO Defense Innovation Accelerator – the Krakow DIANA Accelerator.

The main areas of activity for the Krakow DIANA Accelerator will be supporting the implementation of accelerator programs in the field of technological solutions necessary to ensure the security and defense of all NATO alliance countries. For Poland, this is a chance to support the technological modernization of the defense sector and the development of companies in the area of new and disruptive technologies of dual-use, for both civil and defense purposes. Business acceleration will primarily be provided by KPT, while AGH will provide technological acceleration and access to research and laboratory infrastructure. DIANA cooperates with startups and companies selected in competitions throughout the Alliance, providing financial, training, and mentoring support as well as access to a wide network of investors and industry representatives.

The aim of the DIANA network, created by NATO, is to combine the competencies of scientists, innovators, and startups working on “deep tech” solutions with defense and military sector units. DIANA’s areas of interest will include new and disruptive technologies, including artificial intelligence, space tech, quantum, autonomous, information and communication technologies, energy, as well as biotechnology and new raw materials and materials, also including manufacturing.

The development of technologies with the potential for so-called dual use will allow for their dynamic development, further commercialization, and faster implementation by NATO allies. The consortium of AGH and KPT was created with the aim of increasing the acceleration potential of Poland, and joining the DIANA network brings a huge chance to create a national innovation ecosystem, drawing from the best practices of the NATO ecosystem, which already includes over 200 associated entities in the DIANA network.

As Brig. Gen. Marcin Górka, Director of the Innovation Department and Poland’s representative on the DIANA Board of Directors, says: – From the very beginning of our participation in the DIANA program, we wanted to locate one of the accelerator centers in Poland. This is an absolute prerequisite for our country to fully exploit the opportunities that DIANA offers – and I am not only thinking of startups and innovators and Polish test centers already included in the DIANA network, but also the Polish innovation ecosystem in a broader sense, including venture capital funds, academic centers, armament entities, and of course us, the soldiers. I am very pleased that the offer from the Krakow Technology Park and the AGH has been accepted by the Board of Directors.

Professor Jerzy Lis, the Rector of AGH in Krakow, emphasizes: – For AGH this is an extremely important distinction and recognition of our scientific potential. By joining this prestigious group of NATO accelerator building units, together with the Krakow Technology Park, we are taking responsibility for delivering solutions at the highest level, which will be crucial for security in the Alliance. We treat such challenges with the utmost seriousness. For AGH itself, this is a chance to strengthen and develop key research areas. The substantive support, mentoring from market experts are also invaluable in this endeavor. At the same time, we feel that we are ready to bring the most innovative solutions created within our university to the DIANA program.

Tadeusz Zaremba, CEO of the Krakow Technology Park, says: The Krakow Technology Park is continually looking for specialization in the area of innovation support, and cooperation with NATO in the field of defense innovation is seen by us as a unique opportunity for innovators. Our actions are driven both by the conviction that it is so-called deep technologies that build the strongest competitive advantages in business, and by the fact that the future should be built on the pillars of innovation, security, and cooperation. At KPT, we believe that investing in defense innovation is not only a strategic issue but also a responsibility towards future generations.

According to Jacek Siewiera, Head of the National Security Bureau, – The Polish Innovation Ecosystem, according to an international decision, has received a new, extremely crucial institution, created on the basis of the Krakow University of Science and Technology and the Krakow Technology Park – the Krakow DIANA Accelerator, which is part of the NATO DIANA Defense Innovation Accelerator. The National Security Bureau consistently supported this idea, as modern security largely depends on whether we will be able to use appropriately the potential of research and development units and technological parks, and on how effectively we will be able to transfer and utilize this knowledge to increase the security of the state. Positioning the accelerator in Poland will facilitate cooperation between startups, investors, defense industry entities, academic circles, and the end user. Allied cooperation in the security sector is the basis for the functioning of contemporary business models and will positively impact the development and use of breakthrough technologies, and significantly strengthen the resilience of the Polish state and the entire North Atlantic Alliance.

– The strength of DIANA is our unique transatlantic network of talent centers and innovation leaders working towards a common goal. The reach and diversity of partners in the DIANA network will accelerate the development and implementation of breakthrough solutions for defense, security, and peace – says Prof. Deeph Chana, Managing Director of the NATO Defense Innovation Accelerator (DIANA), and also Director of the Institute for Security and Technology at Imperial College in London.

Participation in the accelerator is coordinated by the Innovation Department of the Ministry of National Defense, which actively supports Poland’s participation in the DIANA program.

The AGH has also appointed a Rector’s plenipotentiary for NATO DIANA, Izabela Albrycht, a member of the NATO Advisory Group for new and breakthrough technologies in 2020-2022. KPT has appointed a plenipotentiary for dual-use technology, Bartosz Józefowski.

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