Only little over a year has passed since EDA was mandated by the European Commission to implement the PADR (€90 million budget for 2017-2019) but the ground covered since the signing of the Delegation Agreement between the two on 31 May 2017 is truly impressive. Flashback.
2017 Call for proposal
The first call for proposals issued by EDA in June 2017 covered three specific domains: enhanced situational awareness in a naval environment; force protection & soldier systems; strategic technology foresight. It attracted wide interest and generated no less than 24 submissions with consortia including around 190 entities - institutes, small and medium sized enterprises and prime companies - some of them applying to various calls in different consortia.
Following a thorough assessment process led by the Agency with the support of independent experts, a first grant agreement worth €0.95 million covering the strategic technology foresight ‘action’ was signed in December 2017 with a consortium led by Engineering Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A. (Italy). PYTHIA, the ‘Predictive methodology for Technology Intelligence Analysis’ project, aims to identify key trends in the fast-evolving world of innovative defence technologies.
A second grant agreement, worth €35.5 million and related to naval situational awareness technology demonstration, was signed in March 2018 with a consortium led by Leonardo S.p.A (Italy) and involving 42 partners from 15 EU countries. Ocean 2020, the largest project under the 2017 call, aims to enhance situational awareness in a maritime environment by using manned and unmanned systems and building a complete picture using many different inputs. The kick-off meeting of the Ocean 2020 project took place at EDA on 10/11 April 2018.
Last but not least, the force protection & soldier systems ‘action’ was given a go-ahead when grant agreements for three different projects were signed last April:
GOSSRA (Generic Open Soldier Systems Reference Architecture) which focuses on ensuring that complex system elements worn by soldiers work together. Worth roughly €1.5 million it is run by a consortium led by Rheinmetall Electronics, Germany (see interview on the right).
ACAMS II, worth roughly €2.6 million, develops adaptive camouflage for soldiers that protect them against sensors operating in several wavelength ranges. The consortium is led by FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency.
Vestlife (roughly €2.7 million) aims to create innovative protective clothing for soldiers that are effective for defence purposes, but lighter, more flexible and comfortable at the same time. The project consortium is led by AITEX (Spain).
The five grants agreements signed so far are worth a total of some €43 million, meaning that close to 50% of the entire PADR budget (€90 million) is already under implementation.
2018 call for proposals
The second PADR call for proposal was issued by EDA on 15 March 2018 focusing on three topics:
European high-performance, trustable (re)configurable system-on-a-chip or system-in-package components for defence applications (up to €12 million)
European high-power laser effector (up to €5.4 million)
Strategic technology foresight, tackling the issue of critical defence technological dependencies for the EU (overall indicative budget of €1.90 million).
Interested parties had until 28 June 2018 to submit proposals.
In May, based on first lessons learned discussed between the Agency and Member States, EU Ministers of Defence welcomed EDA’s successful implementation of the PADR’s first work programme (2017) and encouraged it to pursue the identification of further lessons learned for the future EU Defence Research Programme. For EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq, “the PADR should not only be seen as a test case for a future European Defence Research Programme but also for the working together between EDA and the European Commission, as well as for the Agency’s future role in it”.