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UK to host world-leading NATO Defence Innovation Headquarters

Against the background of Russia’s attempted invasion of the Ukraine, the UK has announced it will partner with Estonia on the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) programme to maintain NATO’s technological edge. Announced by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, DIANA will see transatlantic cooperation on critical technologies and help NATO work more closely with industry and academia.

The UK will host the European HQ of the DIANA program for NATO allies to accelerate, test, evaluate and validate new technologies that address critical defence challenges and contribute to Alliance deterrence. The UK’s accelerator will be twinned with a new accelerator in Tallinn, Estonia to encourage the sharing of expertise, explore the use of virtual sites to trial vehicles, including autonomous ones, and test cyber innovations.

Bringing together academia, industry and government, DIANA will be hosted by Imperial College London’s Institute for Security Science and Technology and Business School. There will be a DIANA Accelerator at the Innovation Hub (IHUB) in London’s White City Innovation District, in a space shared with the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), major defence contractors and the US Department of Defense’s Tri-Service Office.

As hosts, the UK and Estonia will:

  • Support start-up companies with funding, guidance and business expertise through twinned accelerator networks
  • Offer the use of ‘deep tech’ test centres to assess technological solutions to military problems, utilising the Defence BattleLab
  • Work with NATO to develop a virtual marketplace to connect start-ups with trusted investors, as well as a rapid acquisition service to connect products to buyers at pace

UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said, “The UK and Estonia are two of the most innovative countries in NATO and our hosting of DIANA will harness that innovation for the benefit of all Allies tackling future military threats.

“The UK has a vibrant tech community, combining the academia, financiers, and high-tech start-ups that make it an ideal place to develop the next generation of military technologies. Estonia was the natural partner for the UK given its international leadership in cyber, autonomy and AI, and our close partnership forged through the Enhanced Forward Presence.”

“The goal of DIANA is to support deep technologies companies that contribute to defence,” said Estonian Defence Minister, Kalle Laanet. “It will bring together talented innovators with new technologies end-users in the area of defence. Good relations with Allies is a cornerstone of Estonian defence policy, and a successful start to this programme for us is a sign that this cornerstone is strong.”

The DIANA HQ is expected to be operational from July 2022. The UK MoD says DIANA is essential to delivering the NATO 2030 vision and ensuring that the Alliance develops the military capabilities needed to deter and defend against existing and future threats.

DIANA will support all seven of the key emerging and disruptive technologies that NATO has identified as priorities: artificial intelligence, big-data processing, quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotechnology, hypersonics and space.

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