Civil tech to power up defence

With global security challenges on the rise, the integration of new technologies into the defense sector has become a priority for Sweden. Central to this initiative is the effort to bridge the gap between the civil sector’s technological solutions and the defense industry’s specific needs. Sweden’s rich ecosystem of startups and scaleups is increasingly recognized as crucial to strengthening Sweden’s framework as these companies offer groundbreaking innovations and fresh perspectives that help navigate the challenges of modern security threats.

Bridging civil and defence sectors

Shared visions and increased collaboration between the civil and defence sectors are key. There is a pressing need to close the gap that has been widening between these sectors, and actors across the spectrum call for a more integrated approach. The synergy of civil sector innovation and defence expertise safeguards national security.

A tradition of innovation

Sweden’s role as a pioneer in technological innovation is a strategic asset in its defence policy. As security concerns increase, we must ensure that Sweden remains at the forefront of defence technology, ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow. This includes investing in research and development, encouraging cross-sectoral knowledge exchange, and creating an environment where innovative ideas can flourish and be rapidly deployed.

The role of startups and scaleups 

Startups and scaleups are essential partners in driving technological advancements in the defence sector. Their agility, innovative approaches, and groundbreaking technologies are critical for enhancing Sweden’s defence capabilities, making their involvement essential for the nation’s security framework. To boost this involvement, there is a need for supportive frameworks that facilitate these partnerships, including funding mechanisms, regulatory support, and platforms for collaboration.

Insights from the Swedish Minister for Defence

At a recent event on Defense and Innovation, Swedish Minister for Defence, Pål Jonson, stressed the critical need for innovative solutions amidst growing security challenges in Sweden and Europe. Jonson acknowledged the civil sector’s significant role and potential in enhancing Sweden’s defence through technology and innovation. He also emphasized the government’s desire for more coordinated efforts in innovation and for lowering the barriers for new companies to contribute to the defence sector.

The event brought together a mix of cutting-edge startups and scaleups, and decision-makers to explore the potential of civil sector innovations in meeting defence needs.

The minister directly addressed startups and scaleups: “I’m here today because I need your help. We want to work more with you, and we need to make this journey together to make Sweden safer, now and in the future” the minister stressed.

Partnering for a secure future

Collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to security are vital for tech companies and the defence sector alike. By embracing these principles, Sweden and Europe can navigate modern security challenges, ensuring a safer tomorrow.

This discussion underscores a collective ambition to not only address current security challenges but also work proactively to prepare for the future. Central to these efforts is the role of startups and scaleups, whose groundbreaking innovations are key to driving  Sweden’s technological advancements in defence.

However, this requires an ecosystem that supports innovation and new partnerships, ensuring accessible funding, supportive policies, and platforms that foster cross-sectoral collaborations. The way forward is marked by collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to national and global security.

New funding and collaboration opportunities

Sweden and Europe are responding to the need for defense innovation by introducing several key funding and collaboration opportunities. These efforts aim to engage startups and scaleups, empowering them to bring innovative solutions to the defense sector. By focusing on these companies, the goal is to make the defense industry more dynamic and responsive to evolving security needs.

Some of these initiatives are:

European Defence Fund (EDF)
A European Commission initiative, aimed to support collaborative defence projects. It focuses on funding the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at various stages, from research to market deployment.

NATO Innovation Fund (NIF)
Aimed at enhancing NATO’s innovation ecosystem, NIF supports deep tech innovations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It facilitates the commercialization of technologies vital for the Alliance’s security by addressing the funding gap in the market.

An acceleration program and network of test centers connecting startups with end users, scientists, and integrators to promote the development of dual-use deep tech solutions for NATO.

Säkerhets- och försvarsföretagen (SOFF)
A trade association for the security and defence industry in Sweden. SOFF works to improve market access and trade opportunities for companies within the sector, fostering a competitive business environment.

As a network and knowledge hub, SME-D promotes collaboration, competence development, and experience exchange. Its goal is to enhance the competitiveness of its members and ensure the continuous supply of skills in the industry.