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EDA gearing up to create innovation hub

Governments across the European Union (EU) will soon review proposals to create during 2022 a new technology co-ordination hub within the European Defence Agency (EDA).

The hub will function as a network to identify and promote the development of innovative and disruptive defence technologies across the agency's 26 member countries (all EU countries, except Denmark), and could eventually include testing and certification services for innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to EU officials.

The hub would directly support the EU's capability development plan (CDP), whose six main objectives are to develop a new main battle tank, soldier systems, a European patrol class surface ship, capabilities for anti-access/area-denial and counter-unmanned aircraft systems, defence in space, and military mobility.

“We've held talks with the member states over the past year, and the outlines are now clear of what needs to be done in a more systematic way,” said EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý, briefing reporters at the agency on 20 January.

He said that Josep Borrell, the EU's chief of security and defence policy, is expected to send a letter to national governments during the week of January 24–28 with concrete proposals for setting up the hub. It pinpoints EDA as the most suitable EU entity for prioritising multination research and development, defence capability development, and outreach to industry, as well as for liaising with the European Commission. The latter controls the EU's new European Defence Fund, worth EUR8 billion (USD9.04 billion).

The impetus for the innovation hub is a reference in the EU's wider draft strategic compass document, which will orientate the union's foreign policy, defence, and military ambitions to 2030. The compass will be finalised by end March.

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