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EDA Annual Conference 2016 closes with call for cooperation on defence innovation

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq closed today's Annual Conference 2016 with a call for "cooperation to generate innovation".

In his final remarks wrapping up a "very insightful and constructive conference", Mr Domecq thanked all the speakers for their interesting contributions: Federica Mogherini, Head of the Agency, High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, Commissioner Bieńkowska, Slovak State Secretary Ondrejcsák and Mr. De Spiegeleire. He also expressed gratitude to the members of two panels "who brought their insights, expertise and assessments to the table today".

Main takeaways

Mr Domceq singled out a number of takeaways from this year's EDA conference, in particular:

  • in our increasingly challenging security environment, innovation in research, planning and funding is paramount; therefore, safeguarding leadership in strategic technologies is more pressing than ever. Especially fields like biotechnology, nanotechnology and deep intelligence will have a profound impact on Europe’s ability to develop strategic assets
  • at the same time, new technologies and new innovation will require a new mind set: to seek out and import commercial sector innovations and quickly develop new concepts of operation; to tap into innovation in the private sector and channel it into defence; and also to achieve cross-border competition which is speciually important to SME's and start-ups in Member States which do not have prime defence companies
  • we have to find a balance between not suffocating SME's and start-ups and taping their knowledge for defence and, on the other hand, provide our governments with assurances that these new players will respect the specificities of the defence and security world
  • European collaboration generates innovation and "remains the best guarantee for achieving value for money and developing cutting-edge defence capabilities". "Cooperation is voluntary but it is a need" 
  • the main challenges arising from a third industrial revolution are to integrate future innovations into development and production cycles, gain awareness of emerging leap-ahead technologies, access non-traditional sources of innovation, and ensure the reliability of trusted supply chains
  • innovation does not come for free: the massive decline in budgetary terms of our defence R&T efforts is a matter of the highest concern because capabilities of the future are at stake here and the competitiveness of our defence industry is at risk. Therefore, fresh funding and the reinforcement of our R&T and innovation efforts will be key to structure European cooperation
  • to reap the benefits, and not just adapt, to a third industrial revolution, Member States should make systematic use of the programmatic, financial and policy instruments offered by the EU which can support defence research, identify key enabling technologies and support testing and experimentation in view of potential uptake in defence products
  • the EDA is looking to get ahead by also working “up-stream”, notably by facilitating Member States’ convergence on identifying and prioritising research topics
  • without a strong incentive, the current momentum may tail off. We must incentivise the right actions and the right programmes
  • cooperation in defence is still not part of Europe’s DNA. Yet, it remains the most efficient and cost effective way to ensure Europe’s strategic autonomy
  • strategic autonomy and a committment to a strong relationship with our partners are two sides of the same coin; otherwise, the technological gap will create a political gap 
  • as a hub for innovation, collaboration and action, EDA will continue to engage with industry and R&T innovators as valuable partners in providing technology and solutions which address the needs of Member States.
EDA : "At the service of Member States"

Mr Domecq concluded the Annual Conference 2016 by recalling "EDA's mantra: at the service of its Member States". However, "the Agency's output depends entirely on Member States input. So, view this agency as a crucial and natural partner. Use our resources and expertise".

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