– We must maintain our technological advantage, warns NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
This week, he chaired a two-day meeting of defense ministers at NATO where a number of new initiatives will be launched – including a new innovation fund which, according to Stoltenberg, is expected to contribute 1 billion euros in investment. This corresponds to just under NOK 10 billion at today’s exchange rates.
The new honey pot will support the development of new emerging and disruptive technologies that can be used both civilly and militarily.
– Future conflicts will not be fought with just bullets and bombs, but with bytes and big data. We see authoritarian regimes racing to develop new technologies, from artificial intelligence to autonomous systems, Stoltenberg said.
– So we took a new step to secure our alliance for the future.
Norway at think tank
But when the new fund deal was due to be signed on Friday morning, Norway was not present.
This is due to a change of government, explains newly appointed Norwegian Defense Minister Odd Roger Enoksen (Sp).
– This is a case that I have handled in the ministry, but from the government side, we have not had time to handle this case. “I can’t sign anything that hasn’t been processed by the government,” Enoksen told NTB.
He will make the Labor government’s first trip abroad when he attends a meeting of NATO defense ministers on Thursday and Friday.
Enoksen hasn’t ruled out that Norway could join the new innovation fund at a later date, but says it’s something he has to return to in that case.
– This content, and whether it makes sense to participate or not, I will not comment on it now. It’s too early, he said.
At a meeting of defense ministers, NATO will also follow up on a decision from this summer’s summit to establish a new accelerator for defense innovation. The accelerator has now been named Diana.
– It will have headquarters in Europe and North America, with a network of test centers and accelerator locations where civic innovation will be harvested, Stoltenberg said.
He believed progress had been good and said more centers would be set up as early as next year.
In addition, for the first time, NATO will adopt an artificial intelligence strategy.
The EU Fund is eight times bigger
The new innovation fund is described as a startup fund. The goal is to secure financing for small and medium-sized businesses, making it easier for them to take risks and invest in technology that can take a long time to make money.
As far as NTB is concerned, it is hoped that the majority of NATO countries will join the fund.
But the estimate of 1 billion euros holds for the full 15-year period, and that figure is more of an ambition than a number of concrete promises from participating countries.
In comparison, the EU has launched a new defense fund called the EDF. It has a budget of almost 8 billion euros in just seven years.
The previous government initially agreed to keep Norway away from the EDF, but the Progress Party eventually got the green light to report Norway.
Norway’s contribution to the EDF is estimated at just under NOK 2 billion over seven years.
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