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Promoting technological civil-military synergies

Numerous technologies used and further developed in the defence domain have civil roots, and vice-versa: Additive Manufacturing (3D-printing), Gallium Nitride, Gallium Arsenide, Graphene, cyber and energy technologies are only a few examples. It makes therefore sense to bring the two sides closer together and promote synergies between them. This was also the objective of an EDA online workshop held this week under the Agency’s ANDES (ANalysis of Dual usE Synergies) project.

Launched in June 2020, the ANDES project aims at developing a Dual Use Technology Transfer Mechanism (DUT2M) to structurally enhance civil-military entanglements on innovation and R&T, for the benefit of both sides.  This week’s workshop, attended by more than 80 participants from 16 EDA Member States, EU institutions, industry, think tanks, academia and research centres, was particularly focused on discussing and defining the most appropriate and promising general framework future civil-military synergies. The main conclusion of the meeting was that there is increasing demand and need for enhancing spin-in/spin-off dynamics in advanced technologies, such as the electronic components, corrosion management or advanced materials.

Europe-wide effort

The workshop comes only a week after the European Commission published its Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries. The plan lays the ground to deliver concrete policy actions under three headlines: - enhancing complementarity between relevant EU programmes and instruments to increase efficiency of investments and effectiveness of results (the ‘synergies’); - promoting that EU funding for research and development, including on defence and space, has economic and technological dividends for EU citizens (the ‘spin-offs’); - facilitating the use of civil industry research achievements and civil-driven innovation in European defence cooperation projects (the ‘spin-ins’). 

EDA’s ANDES project intends to support and promote those efforts by identifying valuable recommendations for the EU’s dual use policy, taking into account the present worldwide situation (e.g. relevant examples are USA and China). A particular focus is dedicated to the Dual Use Technology Transfer Mechanism: there are several possible models but the peculiarities of the defence ecosystem require a facilitator between the institutional stakeholders (e.g. European Commission, Ministries of Defence in Member States, EDA and other relevant EU bodies) on the one hand, and the industrial/academia/research community on the other hand. The ANDES workshop showed the active participation from the institutional/governmental and dual use stakeholders and led to the recognition that a structured EU dual use policy will be beneficial for the European defence and more generally for Europe’s economy, especially now as it is strongly affected by the covid-19 pandemic.

Way ahead

Before the completion of the ANDES project (scheduled for mid-2021), policy recommendations will be submitted to the project management board which, beyond EDA staff, also includes representatives from the European Commission and the European Parliament (think tank), with the objective to support future implementation actions in the EU dual use ecosystem.

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