Source: NATO - View of the room during the Alliance summit

A €1 Billion Fund to propel deep tech advancements

NATO, the collective security system, announced last year the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF) that aims to operate like a classic VC and will make direct investments into startups located in the 23 participating Allied nations*, as well as indirect investments into deep tech funds with a trans-Atlantic impact. First investments will start by the end of this year and will be made by participating allies that will invest capital by way of their sovereign wealth funds or government ministries.

For us, high-impact verticals include artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, energy & propulsion, [additive] manufacturing, and space. We are passionate about autonomy, hypersonics, new materials and quantum, and want to shore up cutting-edge hardware and software”, NATO said.

I am not surprised to see AI in this list as the technology has quickly become one of the most hyped technologies of this year. Given the fact that AI is more and more integrated in Additive Manufacturing which itself is considered as one of the emerging technologies, there is a great chance that the fund supports defense startups that are leveraging AM technologies.

Furthermore, these startups could actually bring to the fore another solid argument: with the war in Ukraine, existing developments in AM are enabling applications in the military field. As a matter of fact, just recently in September, US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Procurement and Sustainment William Laplante reported Ukraine received industrial-level 3D printers from the USA, capable of printing spare parts for equipment on the battlefield. This war itself is likely to make defense spending rise in this area.

In general, defense remains a sensitive topic for the AM industry – for obvious reasons but it’s probably the only industry that requires a very fast adoption of the technology, compared to others that have the constraint of stringent regulations. At a time when we are questioning the cost and the lack of rapid applications of AM compared to other emerging technologies, access to this fund might give defense start-ups an opportunity to make an impact with AM.

*Participating NATO Allies include: Belgium; Bulgaria; Czechia; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia; Spain; Türkiye; United Kingdom. “This year’s Summit set Sweden further on track to becoming the 32nd country to join our Alliance, and this historic step will make way for Sweden to participate in the NATO Innovation Fund and to contribute to its important mission,” NATO said.

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Corporate communication and marketing expert by training at 3D Adept, Kety is currently leading the publication’s editorial and content activities. She has a unique gift for knowing how to grab an audience's attention on insights that matter – in this case, everything related to additive manufacturing. She believes that a wide range of innovations still have to be discovered about the technologies that shape the world of tomorrow and she has made it her objective at 3D ADEPT Media.