Research & Technology (R&T) makes a critical contribution to the preparation of future capabilities. Together with innovative solutions developed by different defence actors, it brings real and tangible operational benefits to our armed forces. Europe’s defence systems have been developed as a consequence of major R&T investments that, given the length of development cycles, were made decades ago.
Such R&T investment underpins both European competitiveness and sustainable military capabilities. More than €500 million have been allocated to over 150 R&T projects by Member States since the creation of the Agency in 2004. By adding industrial and in-kind contributions on these projects, this figure raises to almost €1 billion.
The aim of Research & Technology at EDA is not only to contribute to the development of future Defense Capabilities but also to cover current needs and be prepared to overcome unexpected threats through innovation, technology push, maturation of technologies and mitigation of risks, all these through European cooperation among pMS. These objectives are an important step in the Agency’s mission to develop capabilities in support of the Common Security and Defence Policy.
EDA supports pMS cooperation in R&T and manage these activities via the EDA Capability Technology groups, or "CapTechs", which form a network of experts from participating Member States (pMS) dedicated to a particular technology area.
One of the main tools in performing the CapTech strategic work is to provide Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs) to define agreed European R&T priorities. Another important aspect is the definition and implementation of funding mechanisms, via the traditional Ad-Hoc programmes and projects, but also the exploration of new funding schemes: Preparatory Action, ESIF, COSME…
The twelve EDA CapTechs as well as an R&T working group are divided in 2 directorates: Capabilities, Armaments and Technologies (CAT) and European Synergies and Innovation (ESI), in a matrix organization. The ESI CapTechs are responsible for transversal work affecting almost all the systems CapTechs in CAT.
Strategic Research Agendas
The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) is a document that provides an introduction to the technical field addressed by each CapTech. It is linked from inception to the military capabilities and the technical base required to provide future solutions. The SRAs are intended to be used to provide strategic guidance for the R&T priorities addressed in the different CapTechs.
In order to support the incorporation of new topics and technologies a three-step process is envisaged:
- A new initiative on technology watch activity has been established at EDA, were all the R&T experts can look for information, but also share it. This activity is supported by a tool to enable the incorporation of the information obtained by different sources will be made available to the CapTech community.
- Second step is the assessment of technologies identified by the CapTechs, and also by the Technology Watch tool. This second step brings together the expertise of pMS in technological assessment, in order to identify best practices, and implement tailored processes to be used when evaluating the interest of a technology.
- Final step of the process is focused on the selection of the most promising technologies to be developed within the EDA framework.
The EU Council Decision establishing the EDA foresees three types of cooperative instruments:
- Ad Hoc Category B Projects or Programmes (article 20 of the Council Decision)
- Ad Hoc Category A Projects or Programmes (article 19)
- Studies funded from EDA Operational Budget (article 13)
Category B Projects
Each Category B project is initiated by a minimum of two contributing Members, who may offer other Members the possibility to join. One contributing Member (often the initiator) is named the Lead nation, and chairs the meetings of governmental representatives involved in the Project.
Funding is provided by Member States on a voluntary basis. A typical Category B R&T Project involves three to four contributing Members and is worth from EUR 3 to EUR 4 million, but figures vary widely.
Category A Programmes
Compared to Category B, Category A Ad Hoc activities usually take the form of programmes involving a large number of EDA participating Member States. Funding is provided by contributing Members on a voluntary basis, and typically amounts to over €10 million per programme. There is usually one Programme Arrangement covering several individual Projects, implemented through separate EDA contracts.
EDA-funded R&T studies
EDA-funded R&T studies may be used to review the status of a technological domain, or to carry out a pre-feasibility study. The objective is to support the launch of follow-on collaborative activities such as Category B R&T Projects. They are typically prepared by a CapTech moderator in close collaboration with the CapTech national coordinators.
These R&T studies are funded through the EDA Operational Budget, and Intellectual Property Rights belong to the EDA. R&T studies are generally awarded upon competition and are advertised in the EU Official Journal, as well as in the Procurement section of the EDA website. Studies whose value exceeds EUR 500 000 require a Business Case and formal endorsement by the EDA Steering Board.