A billion euros for robots and space: NATO invests in high technology

The NATO Innovation Fund has announced its first investment in the high-tech sector. European companies involved in developments in artificial intelligence, robotics and space technology will receive one billion euros from it. 

Innovation for safety

The NATO Innovation Fund was created in the summer of 2022. After Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the alliance began actively investing in new technologies that could ensure its technological advantage over aggressor states. To date, 24 out of 32 NATO countries have joined the Innovation Fund. This includes Finland and Sweden, which will join the Alliance in 2023 and 2024.

The key goal of the Fund is to support companies engaged in high-tech research. First of all, we are talking about robotics, drones, artificial intelligence systems and satellites — everything that has already radically changed and is still changing the picture on the battlefields right before our eyes.

The companies selected by the Fund will receive financial support for 15 years. This will provide them with the stability necessary for commercialization and large-scale implementation of innovative solutions.

Companies that will receive NATO money

The first tranche of financial support from the NATO Fund amounted to one billion euros. Direct investments went to the following European companies:

ARX Robotic. It is a German manufacturer of modular robotic systems that are designed for mass application in both commercial and humanitarian fields as well as the armed forces. They can be used at firing ranges, for battlefield transportation, and as drone carriers.

Source: ARX Robotic

Fractile. This company specializes in developing technologies that will enhance the capabilities of artificial intelligence by making the largest and most powerful neural networks of today and tomorrow faster, more efficient, and more resilient.

iCOMAT. A British company that specializes in the development of next-generation composite materials. They are lighter, stronger and more resilient than their predecessors and can be used in a wide range of applications from the automotive industry to aerospace. They can be used to build combat aircraft, drones, and launch vehicles, for example.

Isar Aerospace. It’s a German aerospace startup. It develops small rockets capable of providing flexible and cost-effective access to Earth orbit for governments and government agencies as well as private companies. The company plans to carry out the first launch of its SPECTRUM rocket as early as this year.

Space Forge. It is a British aerospace company developing orbital manufacturing technology. It will make it possible to create new semiconductors and alloys in microgravity. Space-derived materials can find applications in critical infrastructure, providing new opportunities in telecommunications, aerospace and quantum fields. 

High-tech funds

In addition to individual companies, the NATO Innovation Fund also supports venture capital management funds that invest in high-tech at an early stage. They can target both civilian and defense markets.

Support from these funds will help build capacity in regions where funding for innovative research may be difficult. These are primarily Southern and Eastern Europe. Special attention is also paid to regions with a large number of fast-growing startups. First of all, we are talking about the Nordic countries.

As part of its first round of investments, the NATO Innovation Fund has decided to support four European foundations. They have experience and expertise in a large number of high technologies, from satellites to quantum cryptography to artificial intelligence. The list includes:

Alpine Space Ventures. A fund focused on investments in the space sector with more than half a century of experience in the industry. With a concentrated portfolio, the fund aims to enable selected startups to realize key opportunities in the space sector.

OTB Venture. An early-stage fund from Central Europe investing in space technology, enterprise automation, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and fintech infrastructure. 

Join Capital. Berlin-based early-stage venture capital fund focused on high-tech investments in industry and enterprises. 

Vsquared Ventures. A fund that invests in early-stage fintech companies. Vsquared focuses on next-generation artificial intelligence and software, energy transformation, space, robotics and manufacturing, and biotechnology.