KADEX 2024 Banner 728x90The European Commission has published the funding decisions of the 2023 research and development projects under the European Defence Fund (EDF). For the first time, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland was given the responsibility of coordinating two of the projects. VTT is also involved as a partner in the three other projects. The overall programme has received almost EUR 68 million in funding from the EU.

The European Defence Fund projects support the EU’s leading expertise in defence technology development in the areas of cyber security, land, air and sea warfare, space technologies and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence.

“Digital technologies are evolving rapidly and the defence sector wants to take advantage of the latest innovations from companies and research institutes. The development of digital technologies is also one of the VTT’s strengths. It’s important for us to bring this expertise to projects that strengthen European security and enhance international research cooperation,” says Sauli Eloranta, Vice President, Defence at VTT.

VTT is leading two projects, FESPAN and SWARM-C3. They will focus on developing the EU’s defence capabilities in the fields of radar systems and swarm robotics. The FESPAN (Forecasting Electromagnetic Signal Propagation Anomalies) project will improve the capabilities of radar and telecommunications systems to function in challenging circumstances, which also contributes to the pan-European model for detecting different threats in the atmosphere. The project will help to develop new radar and telecommunications technologies and establish improved aerial situational awareness. The project has over 20 partners from ten European countries. In addition to VTT, there are two other organisations from Finland, namely the Finnish Meteorological Institute and software company Reaktor.

The SWARM-C3 (Command, Control, and Communications for Multi-X Swarms) project, in turn, will develop solutions for the ethical use of robotic swarms in defensive military operations. The main objective of SWARM-C3 is to develop a novel Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for the management of swarms of autonomous uncrewed systems, such as drone swarms, for defence missions on land, at sea, and in the air. This CONOPS will include innovative command and control, decision-support, human-machine interface, data communications, and swarm intelligence solutions, among others. The project involves five partners from four European countries. In addition to VTT, Insta is also involved from Finland.

In addition to the two coordinated projects, VTT is involved as a partner in three other projects. In the NEMO project, language technologies will be developed especially for the needs of the defence sector and taking into account military-specific vocabulary.  The FMBTech project will develop the capabilities of main battle tanks. Finally, the project ESOCA will develop strategic airlift capabilities in Europe. VTT’s third partner project, ESOCA, is creating methods to develop a European air transport capability.

In the current round of funding, the European Defence Fund is supporting a total of 54 defence R&D projects in the EU. Altogether, the projects received just over EUR 1 billion in EU funding. Several Finnish actors are involved, with nineteen domestic organisations participating in a total of nineteen different projects. VTT is the most active Finnish player in the call and one of the most important European research institutes in terms of funding.

The European Defence Fund is a programme funded with the EU budget and launched in 2021. The total budget of the fund for 2021–2027 is approximately EUR 8 billion. The aim is to promote cooperation between companies and research actors in the European Union and to increase the competitiveness, efficiency and innovation capacity of the European defence industry and research community.


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