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European Defence Fund – Receiving a grant for technological development

The military interests of most EU member states have traditionally been channeled through NATO. Today, the EU and its member states are aware that an EU military capacity is needed to secure its society and strategic interests.

As with many other areas in the past that have not been under EU competence (social affairs, monetary union,…) a process has been set in motion that eventually will lead to an EU army.

Several acts have already been passed, relating to increasing the members states’ military spending, transparency of public procurement, coordination in spending and common R&D to name a few. A “Strategic Compass for Security and Defence” adopted in 2020 and revised in 2022 gives the direction of future action.

We have no ambition to address each of them here. Instead, we highlight the recently launched European Defence Fund 2023. Why is this important? It offers opportunities for companies, both large and small, to develop technologies, receive grants, establish a network in the sector and position themselves in a growing market. Many technologies also lead to civil applications, providing further commercial opportunities.

European Defence Fund (EDF) 2023

The EDF is a programme that runs from 2021 to 2027 with a budget of 8 billion Euro. The budget for 2023 is 1,2 billion Euro and the call for tender has been launched last month. The deadline for submissions is 22 November 2023.

The support is mainly in the form of grants and is open for companies with headquarters in the EU or Norway. Companies in third countries can participate under certain conditions. Around a dozen non-EU companies participated in the last call. Note that tenders cannot be made by individual companies but have to be made in a consortium with at least three participating companies.

To be successful, projects need to address the demands of the EDF program, focus to actual needs and lead to tangible results for EU armed forces. Projects also need to be consistent with other programs; national, EU and NATO. A successful bid needs support from national authorities and we advise to engage with armed forces and/or Ministries of Defence.

The EDF 2023 program consists of 34 topics, related to armed forces, like air combat, naval combat, ground combat; to certain equipment like sensors, air & missile defence; and a number of general technologies, like digital transformation, disruptive technologies or materials technologies.

EDF has several actions to support the participation of SMEs and the 2023 program has a separate call for SMEs. In addition, it has a dedicated program with support measures to help innovative companies to bring their ideas to defence end users. It is our expectation that the participation of an SME in any consortium may increase the chances for success.

Next steps

On 28 June, the European Commission organised an information day for EDF 2023. If you have missed it, you can find the presentations of the day and information on the call for proposals HERE. You may also be interested in further assistance on this call: search for consortium members, consortium management, relations with EU and national authorities, proposal writing, a.o. Please contact us for an initial conversation.


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