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Promote Defence oriented Open Innovation initiatives to speed up the uptake of Emerging and Disruptive Technologies
In October 2019, at the NATO Defence Ministerial, concern was expressed that NATO was at risk of losing its ‘technology edge’. Firstly, there was the issue of ‘Emerging and Disruptive’ Technologies (EDT), that were being increasingly developed within the civil sector. Secondly, was the increased determination of potential peer competitors, especially, but not exclusively, China, to position themselves to drive the future of advanced technologies, including their use for military applications. As a consequence, the Defence Ministers tasked NATO bodies to conduct a number of activities to address the topic, and also encouraged NATO nations to strengthen their efforts on EDT. As part of this initiative, the Conference of National Armament Directors (CNAD) tasked the NIAG to conduct a study to provide the Industry view on the implications of EDT on defence operations and military capability development, and on the implications of the developments in China, including Chinese strategies and practices, such as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In assessing the maturity and military implications of the EDT technologies, the first consideration is the increasingly rapid and profound rate of technological change. This, combined with the fact that the drivers and sourcing of the technology are increasingly coming from the civil sector, will have profound effect on defence capabilities and military operations, but also on the future structure of the defence industry itself. These are few of the opening lines of the NIAG study on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, in the context of Emerging Powers - Final report. As stated in this Report, Emerging and Disruptive Technologies (EDT) encompasses both new technology, and new use of existing technology, that will change the way we, or potential adversaries, operate. This includes ‘game-changing’ technology that revolutionises the field, but which could come with risks attached because it is new and untested. Such technologies could range from those that are expensive and challenging to develop - for example hypersonic - to those that are cheap and easily accessible but used in novel ways. For example non-state actors using drone technology in ways which could challenge norms of behaviour - to those that disrupt the fundamental operating understanding of our conventional approaches, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and sensing. In the Defence domain, things are not going as fast as the technology evolution would suggest doing, since, again as stated in the NIAG Report, in assessing the maturity and military implications of the EDT technologies, the first consideration is the increasingly rapid and profound rate of technological change. This, combined with the fact that the drivers and sourcing of the technology are increasingly coming from the civil sector, will have profound effect on defence capabilities and military operations, but also on the future structure of the defence industry itself. The so-called “civil sector” is experiencing this rapid growth, for many reasons, but one of them is that it has being able to implement effectively some important paradigm shifts as the Open Innovation approach.
Gulienetti Giorgio, Proietti Paolo, Fuselli Manuel
Paper for Seminar/Symposium/Conference
NIF21 - NATO Industry Forum (11 March 2021, Online Only)
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