The fund will provide technology start-ups with outstanding innovation potential with an investment vehicle that does not require them to give up equity or ownership in the business (non-dilutive financing), and access to a network of the highest quality, trusted investors, business mentoring and training, and state-of-the-art testing facilities.
The 15-year timeframe of the NATO Innovation Fund fits perfectly with the development time horizon for deep-tech start-ups. The fund will focus primarily on early-stage (seed) investments, ensuring the achievement of the fund’s three strategic objectives:
- to find cutting-edge technological solutions that address the Alliance’s defence and security challenges;
- to strengthen deep-tech innovation ecosystems within the Alliance; and
- to boost the commercial success of the deep-tech start-up portfolio.
The fund complements the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA), established by the Charter signed on 7 April 2022, whose core objective is to provide a common platform for industry, start-ups and academia to research and adapt dual-use emerging technologies. The technology areas identified by NATO for development include artificial intelligence, data science and high-performance computing, autonomous technologies, quantum-based technologies, biotechnology and human enhancement, hypersonic technologies, space, advanced materials and manufacturing, and energy and propulsion. DIANA will set up an innovation network of 9 accelerator sites and 63 test centres in the Alliance countries.
Hungary has joined both the Innovation Fund and the DIANA programme, and the Government Decisions on the related tasks were published in the Hungarian Gazette of 28 June 2022:
- Government Decision 1308/2022 (VI. 28.) on the tasks related to the national representation and authority tasks of NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic initiative and the establishment of the test centre in Hungary
- Government Decision 1309/2022 (VI. 28.) on the accession to the NATO Innovation Fund and related tasks
According to the decision, the Hungarian DIANA test centre will be based on the infrastructure of Automotive Proving Ground Zala Ltd and ZalaZONE Research and Technology Centre.