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NATO DIANA accelerator brings defense experts and entrepreneurs to Estonia

NATO and Estonian flags.
NATO and Estonian flags. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The NATO DIANA Estonian Accelerator was officially opened at the Tehnopol Business and Science Park on Friday. The nine companies that are set to begin start developing their ideas in Estonia, all presented their work.

The Tehnopol Startup Incubator in Tallinn is one of five initial locations, in which NATO DIANA innovation accelerators are being opened during the project's pilot year.

Over 1,300 companies from across the Alliance applied to participate in the accelerator, which aims to develop dual use technologies. 44 companies were ultimately selected, nine of which are set to start developing their concepts in Estonia. All companies included in the accelerator receive grants of €100,000, with the most successful also having the opportunity to receive as much as €300,000 in additional funds.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) was pleased to see the NATO DIANA innovation accelerator finally opening in Estonia. "I hope that you take the energy in your pitches and bring the potential to life as soon as possible. Looking around here today, I see immense capacity to make a difference not only on the battlefield, but also in the civil sector," Pevkur said.

Secretary General of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Ahti Kuningas highlighted the strength of DIANA in supporting the development of dual use technologies.

"Estonia is known for startups and the knowledge specific to them will certainly be useful in launching DIANA as well. We have great expectations for solutions to better ensure our energy supply through the use of hardware, software and cyber solutions, but also through sharing knowledge about undersea infrastructure and artificial object surveillance or secure data exchange," Kuningas said.

According to the Head of the Tehnopol Startup Incubator and the NATO DIANA Estonian Accelerator Kadri Tammai, it is already clear that among the nine companies involved, there are several developing cyber defense technologies that would be useful for Estonia's critical infrastructure owners and may also provide security in case of attacks against quantum computers.

"In addition to that, over the next six months we will support technologies in the accelerator that enable mapping and scanning the seabed more precisely than before, as well as innovative ultra-light alternative energy cells for drones," explained Tammai.

Tehnopol CEO Indrek Orav said that all the hard work has finally come to fruition. Orav added that he is glad Tehnopol has the honor to be among the first to start bringing the DIANA accelerator program to life.

"This unique symbiosis of a program created for companies and test centers, along with direct financing provides fertile ground for the rapid development of innovative technologies. With more than 20 years of experience in supporting startups as well as already-established companies, Tehnopol will be sure to support the emergence of new success stories within the DIANA program companies too. Our team and network of experts and mentors is ready for the challenge and to give it their utmost effort," said Orav.

The nine companies to develop their ideas in the Estonian accelerator are GaltTec, Lobster Robotics, GIM Robotics, Revobeam, AVoptics, Dronetag, Icewind, Anzen Technology Systems and Goldilock.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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