Boosting European security through common defense research and innovation

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New EU funding in size of about €1.2 bn is aimed at targeted investment in efficient defense capabilities: the European Defense Fund, EDF includes new instruments targeted towards active SMEs and start-ups involvement in the continental defense innovation and dual-use industrial systems. Adoption of new funding adds to the EU’s defense investment over €3 billion since the EDF’s creation in May 2021; the EDF budget for 2021-27 reached about €8 billion.  

     New EU funding is the third in the series of the European efforts during about two last years – with the allocation of €1.2 billion – to finance defense collaborative research and development projects in the member states. With this program of new funding for defense projects, it is aimed to develop common strategic defense capabilities and technologies. It also introduces a series of new measures to promote defense innovation under the EU Defense Innovation Scheme (EUDIS).
The EDF will also help to reduce the fragmentation of investments in European defence capability development and enhance industrial competitiveness and promotes EU-wide interoperability.
With the adoption of the new funding, the EU institutions will provide additional investment of more than €3 billion since the EDF entry into application in May 2021.

EU Defense Innovation Scheme: three new calls
Through the EUDIS, the Commission supports innovative entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs, to help them break through traditional entry barriers, bring ideas to the market and make a difference for EU security and defense. EUDIS gradually introduces a wide range of support measures to strengthen the EU defense innovation system.
The 2023 EDF program adds three new EUDIS measures (with a budget of about €220 million) for implementation through the EU-wide calls for SMEs and on disruptive technologies, business-coaching, technological challenges, etc.
a) Calls for the organisation of a series of defense hackathon events across multiple European locations;
b) Calls that include financial support to organisations (cascade funding) to support development of innovation test hubs;
c) Specific calls designed to support the further exploitation of EU civil-funded research to test its applicability for military end users;
Besides the Commission established a defense equity facility -similar to one established in 2022 – with €20 million support.
The EUDIS will further develop matchmaking activities to accelerate business partnerships and provide for active synergies between civil, defense and space industries.
EUDIS will continue to work in close partnership with the European Defense Agency’s (EDA) and Defense Innovation Hub (HEDI) to support defense innovation throughout the life cycle of products and ultimately enhance the defense capabilities in the EU states.

The EDF’s program and facilities
The European Defense Fund, EDF is the Commission’s instrument to support defense R&D and cooperation. Alongside the EU states’ efforts, it promotes cooperation between companies of all sizes and research actors throughout the EU and Norway (as an associated country). The EDF supports competitive and collaborative defense projects throughout the entire R&D cycle focusing on projects leading to state-of-the-art and interoperable defense technologies and equipment. It also fosters innovation and incentivises the cross-border participation of SMEs. The EDF’s work program and priorities are defined based on the defence capability priorities agreed by the EU states within the framework of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP), and particularly in the context of the Capability Development Plan (CDP).
The EDF is endowed with a budget of €7,953 billion for the period 2021-27 divided into two pillars:
= €2,651 billion will be allocated to funding collaborative defense research to address emerging and future security threats; and
= €5,302 billion will co-finance collaborative capability development projects.
About 4-8 percent of the EDF budget is devoted to development or research for disruptive technologies having the potential to create game-changing innovations.
The EDF is implemented through annual work programs focusing on:
a) Emerging challenges to shape a holistic approach to the modern battle space, such as defense medical support; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) research; biotech and human factors, information superiority, advanced passive and active sensors, as well as research in cyber and space technologies;
b) Bringing a key technology push to the EDF which are relevant across capability domains, such as digital transformation, energy resilience and environmental transition, materials and components, disruptive technologies and open calls for innovative and future-oriented defense solutions, including dedicated calls for SMEs;
c) Excellence in warfare to enhance the capability pull and support ambitious defence systems, such as air combat, air and missile defense, ground combat, force protection and mobility, naval combat, underwater warfare and simulation & training.
More on EDF supporting facilities in:

     Note: The 2023 calls is opened for submission of applications from mid-June to mid-November 2023, and will be published on the EU Funding & Tenders Portal page dedicated to the EDF Program. Under the EDF, the EU is providing financial support, mainly through grants, to collaborative R&D projects in the field of defense.
The EDF can support 100 % of the total eligible costs of a research action, while the EDF support to a development action may vary between 20% and 100% of its total eligible costs depending on the activities covered (e.g. design, prototyping, testing, qualification, certification) and on a bonus system (involvement of SMEs and mid-caps). For question related to the EDF calls for proposals:; for other question related to the EDF:

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