Mr Link, how is Luxinnovation involved in defence activities?

“In 2020, the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence set up a collaboration with Luxinnovation in order support Luxembourg industry in getting access to the European defence market, notably through capability and technology building programmes and initiatives such as the European Defence Fund and the European Defence Agency.

In parallel, the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence has cooperated with the Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Research in order to channel defence spending towards R&D and innovation projects implemented by Luxembourg industry and research centres that can contribute to European security and defence. This strengthens the position of Luxembourg’s industry and research sector within EU and NATO efforts to increase European security and defence capabilities.

With the support of Luxinnovation, the first joint defence call on dual-use technologies in the fields of space and materials was launched on 3 June 2022. Luxinnovation will organise a dedicated information session on 10 June to introduce the call for proposals to Luxembourg industry.”

What has the experience been so far?

“Since the start of Luxinnovation’s defence industry activities in April 2021, Luxembourg industry has already clearly shown strong interest. Our mission includes in fact several aspects contributing to the set-up of a defence industry ecosystem in Luxembourg: 4 operational activities (national, European Defence Agency (EDA), European Defence Fund (EDF) and NATO); the creation of a defence industry community within Luxembourg’s priority sectors, and the promotion of Luxembourg’s technology capabilities in the defence domain at the international level.

With regards to the latter two points, great efforts have been made in the last months, resulting in the first ever Luxembourg pavilion at Eurosatory 2022, Europe largest defence and security fair, with a total of 5 exhibitors and 10 co-exhibitors representing the national industry.

Another key achievement is the drafting of Luxembourg’s first defence industry catalogue, which includes 46 companies and research organisations. It will be released during Eurosatory 2022.

Demonstrating to the other countries of the world that Luxembourg industry has excellent technologies that can feed into the EU defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB) is a key contribution to promoting Luxembourg’s innovation capacity and enables faster access into the EU’s defence value chain.”

You mentioned the joint national call as well as the European activities (EDA and EDF). Could you elaborate on the opportunities that they offer and on how they could possibly contribute to creating links with NATO?

“Both the national joint defence call and the European initiatives are part of the same strategy, which is firstly aimed at helping our industry gain the necessary exposure to and trust of the Directorate of Defence. Secondly, the objective is to help companies be better prepared to cooperate with prime contractors such as Leonardo, Thales and Airbus&Defence as well as the ministries of defence of various European countries, which will eventually be the end user and buyers of their solutions.

Both EDA and EDF are key instruments for ensuring that Luxembourg industry can integrate the EU defence value chain. Since most of our companies and research organisations are active in the civil domain, the focus on dual-use technologies is essential to provide our industry with a first entry point into defence.

Once Luxembourg industry has established itself within the EDA and EDF, the step will consist in getting access to NATO’s procurement programmes. NATO, with the EU member states as strong partners, is a key target end user.”

What are the next steps?

“We have managed to successfully set the basis for our industry to engage with the defence ecosystem and to create the necessary instruments for it to obtain more exposure, both on the national (joint defence call) and the international (Eurosatory) level.

Supporting the existing defence industry community while keeping the doors open to integrate new innovative players will be a key challenge.

Our industry is already very active within both the EDA and the EDF. We also expect much interest in the recently launched joint defence call, which is to become a recurrent instrument for dual-use R&D. The Directorate of Defence has committed to quadruple its R&D expenses until 2024.

Luxembourg has its strategic priority sectors. With our activities, we intend to support the path taken and provide our industry with further possibilities – through defence – to innovate and diversify.

This also means creating more synergies with the civil domain, in areas such as space, cyber or green defence, as well as leveraging existing competences to bring them to a higher level. We see this as a way to increase the attractiveness of the Luxembourg innovation ecosystem.”

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