Since 2018, the Agency has been organising the 'EDA Defence Innovation Prize' which rewards companies and research entities that come up with ground-breaking technologies, products, processes, or services applicable to the defence domain. The contest aims to stimulate defence innovation in Europe and provide non-traditional defence stakeholders (civil industries, SMEs, research organisations, universities, etc.) with an opportunity to showcase their know-how in domains relevant for defence.

Last year’s edition, which focused on ‘Human-Machine Interfaces enabling Human-Machine-Teaming for Defence’, had two winners: Design AI, a German deep-tech start-up specialized in Artificial Intelligence, and Thales AVS/DMS France.

This year, the EDA Defence Innovation Prize is being awarded in close collaboration with the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office which will advise EDA with its extensive technical expertise on space debris matters.

The topic for the 2022 edition is:

Space-based surveillance and reconnaissance defence technologies (space domain) focusing on debris and artificial orbiting objects

We are looking for new, innovative solutions & technologies for space-based surveillance for military and dual-use operations focusing on debris and man-made objects with unexpected behaviour.  In the contested space environment, it is necessary to address the identification and tracking of debris and artificial objects in all orbital regions. In addition, satellite operators – both military and civil - must be provided with collision avoidance tools to support their decision-making for dedicated manoeuvres.

Some examples of these technologies include:

  • Enhanced Space Traffic Management (STM) capabilities for military purposes and dual-use: For instance: tracking in all orbital regions for orbit refinement; safe deorbiting and rapid manoeuvring of military satellites; predicting and avoiding potential collisions, among others.
  • Awareness and tracking of debris and artificial objects, for instance: tracking in all orbit regions for natural and artificial objects; tracking and identifying of objects and threats in space; enhanced ability to maintain real-time awareness of the space domain; space debris detection and tracking through satellite grids; detection of very small LEO debris; space-based telescopes and radars, among others.
For the evaluation of ideas, ESA’s Space Debris Office will provide its expertise on space debris environment modelling, technologies for observation and mitigating space debris, as well as from its experience in collision avoidance for ESA’s missions.

About the EDA Defence Innovation Prize

The winning idea/concept will be worth €30,000.

The prize winner will be selected by an evaluation committee composed of EDA and ESA staff. The prize will be handed over during the 2022 EDA Annual Conference in Brussels.

The prize winner will also have the opportunity to advertise their ideas in EDA’s bi-annual magazine European Defence Matters), on the EDA and ESA’ website and through the Agency’s social media channels. Most importantly, the winner will have the possibility to meet partners for future collaborative projects within the EDA and ESA framework, potentially eligible for EU R&T co-funding.

Furthermore, the owners of proposals that reach a minimum threshold in the assessment process will be given the possibility to meet with EDA’s CapTech Moderators as well as ESA experts to exchange views in potential follow-up activities at a dedicated Defence Innovation Workshop in spring 2023.

Why a Defence Innovation Prize?

The award, which has been organised by EDA since 2018, aims to stimulate defence technological innovation in Europe by reaching out to non-defence R&T communities and innovators set to play an ever-bigger role in developing and producing Europe’s future defence capabilities. It is also meant to provide non-traditional defence stakeholders such as civil industries, SMEs, research organisations, universities and other organisations with an opportunity to showcase their know-how in domains relevant for defence, maximize dual-use synergies and engage in partnerships with the defence sector.

What is expected from applicants?

Submitted innovations must be the applicants’ own intellectual property. However, submissions may include improvements of already existing ideas, new combinations or adaptations thereof applicable in a different context. The applicants must demonstrate the innovative added value of their ideas, compared to what exists already.

Proposals must be innovative, implementable through a collaborative project and financially affordable in terms of future development and exploitation.

Applications from dual-use and civil/commercial innovators and researchers are particularly encouraged.

Who can apply?

The contest is especially (but not exclusively) aimed at non-traditional defence industries, including civil or dual-use producers, and researchers as they play a growing role in inventing and creating the disruptive capabilities that Member States’ Armed Forces will need tomorrow. The contest also provides an excellent opportunity for small and medium sized enterprises, research organisations and universities involved in defence R&D activities to demonstrate their know-how, maximize dual-use synergies and create partnerships with key actors in the defence field.

The rules of the contest and the criteria for participation are available here.

No specific defence background is required to participate in the contest which is open to innovators from all types of industries and research institutions in EDA Member States: defence and civil/commercial producers, large companies & SMEs and defence-related & civil research communities.

Time schedule

  • 12 April 2022: Launch of the contest
  • 9 September 2022: Deadline for submissions
  • September-October 2022: Assessment of submissions
  • End of October 2022:  Winners are notified by the EDA
  • December 2022 EDA Annual Conference: EDA Defence Innovation Prize award ceremony in Brussels
  • April-May 2023: 3rd EDA Defence Innovation Prize Workshop (in collaboration with ESA)

For questions, please contact

Previous editions of the EDA Defence Innovation Prize

To access information released during the previous editions of the EDA Defence Innovation Prize, please follow the links below: