A drone with an integrated payload located at VTT's research facilities.

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The European Commission has announced the funding decisions for the 2023 European Defence Fund (EDF) research and development projects, awarding nearly €68 million to Finland's VTT Technical Research Centre. This marks the first time VTT has been granted coordination responsibility for leading two significant projects, while also participating in three additional initiatives.

The EDF's projects aim to enhance the EU's expertise in various defense technologies, including cybersecurity, land, air, and naval combat, space technologies, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense.

VTT's contribution will particularly focus on advancing digital technologies within these domains.

"Digital technologies are evolving rapidly, and the defense sector is eager to leverage the latest innovations from companies and research institutions. Developing digital technologies is a key strength of VTT. It's vital for us to bring this expertise to projects that bolster European security and strengthen international research cooperation," said Sauli Eloranta, VTT's Director of Defense Technologies.

VTT will coordinate two groundbreaking projects, FESPAN and SWARM-C3, aimed at improving the EU's defense capabilities in radar systems and swarm robotics.

  • FESPAN (Forecasting Electromagnetic Signal Propagation Anomalies) focuses on developing methods to create a unified European threat situation picture and enhancing radar and communication systems' performance under atypical conditions. This project will introduce new radar and communication technologies to provide more precise airspace monitoring. It involves over twenty partner organizations from ten European countries, including the Finnish Meteorological Institute and Reaktor Innovations Oy from Finland.

  • SWARM-C3 (Command, Control, and Communications for Multi-X Swarms) aims to develop solutions for the ethical and effective use of robotic swarms in defense operations. The project will create a new operational concept for managing autonomous unmanned swarm systems, such as drone swarms, across land, sea, and air. It will include command, decision-support, user interface, communication, and swarm intelligence solutions. The project involves five partner organizations from four European countries, with Finland's Insta joining VTT in the effort.

In addition to leading FESPAN and SWARM-C3, VTT is a key partner in three other projects:

  • NEMO, which focuses on developing language technologies tailored to the defense sector's needs and specialized vocabulary.
  • FMBTech, dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of battle tanks.
  • ESOCA, which aims to create methods for improving European air transport capabilities.

The latest EDF funding round supports 54 defense research and development projects across the EU, totaling over €1 billion. Finland is prominently represented, with nineteen national organizations participating in nineteen different projects. VTT stands out as the most active Finnish participant and one of the leading European research institutions in terms of funding received.

Launched in 2021, the European Defence Fund is a program financed by the EU budget, with a total allocation of approximately €8 billion for 2021-2027. Its goal is to foster collaboration between companies and research entities within the EU, enhancing the competitiveness, efficiency, and innovation capacity of Europe's defense industry and research community.

This significant funding underscores VTT's pivotal role in advancing defense technologies and highlights the importance of international cooperation in strengthening European defense capabilities.

HT

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