Empowering Defense Innovation | Recap Resilience Tech Evening | Project A @Techchill 🇱🇻

Welcome 🇪🇺

Welcome to the 13th issue of the European Resilience Newsletter and thank you to those who already subscribed! Uwe and Jack (more about us at the end) started this newsletter to accelerate the building of the European DefenceTech ecosystem and fill a critical gap in European Resilience. We will keep the content bite-sized, frequent and free. We also openly invite guest content creators to contribute (see below for details on how to join). Our goal is to build an ecosystem of founders, operators, investors, and industry experts who are dedicated to enhancing European resilience through technology.

This issue we welcome our recurring guest author Sven Weizenegger. Sven is the Head of the Cyber Innovation Hub of the German Armed Forces. The Bundeswehr Cyber Innovation Hub operates at the intersection of the military and the start-up scene. In this issue, he talks about the crucial role of direct engagement with military end users when innovating in the defense space.

Building Bridges, Strengthening Ties: Our first Resilience Tech Evening

Back in February Project A, together with Atlantik Brücke e.V., hosted the first Reslience Tech Evening at Fotografiska in Berlin. The main goal of the evening was to bring together all the key players in the resilience ecosystem. Representatives from large corporations and established defense companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Diehl, Rheinmetall,  Siemens and Thyssenkrupp joined us that night together with early and late stage investors, emerging tech startups in the space, and relevant stakeholders from the media as well as the political, scientific and military communities.

Keynote by NATO Lieutenant General von Sandrart at the Resilience Tech Evening

Empowering Defense Innovation 💡

The Crucial Role of Direct Engagement with Military End Users

In the dynamic realm of defense innovation, the conventional routes of academic research and procurement agencies often fall short in meeting the urgent needs of military end users. As the head of the Cyber Innovation Hub of the German Armed Forces (CIHBw), I emphasize the paramount importance of innovating in direct collaboration with military end users to swiftly deliver practical solutions tailored to their specific operational requirements.

In contrast to academic and research-centric approaches, which may prioritize theoretical advancements over practical application, direct engagement with military end users ensures that innovation is driven by real-world needs and operational imperatives. By fostering close partnerships between developers and those on the front lines, we can rapidly identify challenges, iterate solutions, and deploy technologies that directly enhance mission effectiveness and soldier safety.

In Ukraine, feedback from the frontlines is provided instantly to defense manufacturers.

Furthermore, bypassing high-level gatekeepers such as traditional procurement agencies in certain well-defined instances allows for greater agility and responsiveness in the innovation process. Startups and emerging tech companies cannot afford to navigate lengthy bureaucratic procedures or endure protracted procurement cycles without revenue. Therefore, the direct involvement of military innovation units like CIHBw serves as a catalyst for accelerating the pace of innovation and bringing cutting-edge technologies to the battlefield in record time.

There is no doubt that procurement agencies fulfill a critical role – strategically, financially, and from a legal perspective. Military procurement couldn’t function without them. But in this day and age, it is time to differentiate between heavy systems such as ships, tanks, aircraft, and artillery systems on the one hand and less costly or interdependent innovations on the other hand. The United States with their sophisticated frameworks for defense innovation involving and bypassing the procurement office has shown the way for many decades. EU countries such as France and Lithuania have similar highly successful programs in place.

By embracing a model that prioritizes direct engagement with military end users, we not only ensure the rapid adoption of innovative solutions but also cultivate a culture of collaboration and co-creation. This approach enables us to harness the expertise and insights of those who understand the challenges and complexities of modern warfare firsthand, resulting in solutions that are not only innovative but also practical and impactful.

As we confront evolving threats and dynamic security challenges, it is imperative that we leverage the expertise and experience of our military personnel to drive innovation forward. By embracing direct engagement with military end users, we can unleash the full potential of defense innovation and equip our armed forces with the tools they need to succeed on the battlefield. Together, let us forge a path towards a safer and more secure future through collaborative and user-centric innovation.

Project A @Techchill 2024 🇱🇻

I am at Techchill this week joining a panel called “The Investment Battlefield: Shaping Defense's Future”.

Together with Nicholas Nelson (MD One Ventures), Kadri Tammai (NATO DIANA Estonian Accelerator) and Tomass Pildegovičs (NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence), we will discuss strategic visions and current trends among key players in defense sector investments.

Meet me at Techchill in Riga, Latvia

News That Caught Our Attention 👀

  • How Israel and allied defenses intercepted more than 300 Iranian missiles and drones - CNN

  • Drones are key to gain advantage over Russia, Ukraine army chief says - Reuters.

  • Rheinmetall chief urges Europe to build defence tech champions - Financial Times.

  • ‘The machine did it coldly’: Israel used AI to identify 37,000 Hamas targets - The Guardian.

Every week we feature a list interesting roles in European DefenceTech start-ups and scale-ups for readers seeking their next challenge in their careers.

If you are a founder and would like to promote your open roles, please get in touch with us!

Passionate and want to contribute? 👩🏻‍💻

The European Resilience Tech Newsletter is always looking for regular and guest authors, writers, reporters, content creators etc. If you like what you read, you are passionate about improving European resilience regardless of your background and want to contribute, just reach out to us!

European Resilience Tech Newsletter Team

Uwe Horstmann co-founded Project A Ventures in 2012 as General Partner and has built Project A to be a leading European early stage investor with over $1bn USD under management and having backed 100+ founders. In addition to Project A, Uwe serves as Reserve Officer in the German armed forces and advises the German Ministry of Defence in digital transformation issues.

Jack Wang is a software engineer turned product driven tech investor and joined Project A in 2021 to lead the firm’s deep tech investing, which have grown to include DefenceTech. Prior to joining Project A, Jack worked in a variety of organisations such as Amazon and Macquarie Group across Australia, US and UK / Europe. Jack holds a MBA from London Business School and Bachelors of Engineering (Bioinformatics, 1st) from UNSW, Australia.

Project A Ventures is one of the leading early-stage tech investors in Europe with offices in Berlin and London. In addition to 1 billion USD assets under management, Project A supports its 100+ portfolio companies with a platform team over 140 functional experts in key areas such as software and product development, business intelligence, brand, design, marketing, sales and recruiting. Project A has backed founders of companies like Trade Republic, WorldRemit, Sennder, KRY, Spryker, Catawiki, Voi and Quantum Systems.