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NATO counting on complex policy interaction to get the technology it needs

The allies' latest plan to nurture and quickly absorb strategic technologies will hinge on the interplay of their four new policy initiatives for that end, according to NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges David van Weel.

To a large degree the initiatives will “all have to work together to foster the technologies we want”, Van Weel told reporters during a closed virtual briefing on 27 October.

Meeting in Brussels on 21 and 22 October, allied defence ministers agreed to set up a new innovation fund worth EUR1 billion (approximately USD1.2 billion), approved two new policies for the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data exploitation, and reviewed preparations for the launch by the end of 2023 of their new public-private platform to finance and develop near-ready military technologies known as the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA).

Referring to DIANA, Van Weel said, “We'll be looking to projects that are daring enough, but whose fundamental technology is there, thus those with a TRL [technology readiness level] of 3 or 4: the beginning of a viable project where the company can deliver on the product. That is where DIANA's [various] accelerator sites will enter the picture as they will know which technologies are there, and how to reach out to participants who may have had little exposure to the world of defence.”

Asked by Janes why this would make NATO's technology absorption faster than in the past, he said one of the “tricks” will be to keep DIANA's structure and functions out of NATO's core enterprise.

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