The number of submitted proposals demonstrate the strong and constantly growing interest of EU defence industry and research organizations to cooperate across borders and jointly contribute to the EU strategic defence capability development. It shows their commitment to integrate the EU’s defence technological and industrial base.
The proposals respond to open competitive calls under the third annual European Defence Fund’s (EDF) Work Programme that addressed 33 thematic priorities across all defence capability domains. The priorities were identified in close cooperation with the Member States and Norway, the associated country to the programme.
Amongst them, proposals responded to calls supporting technological superiority across domains. Proposals also responded to calls on emblematic capability priorities like better space situational awareness to better protect the EU territory and its citizens. In the naval domain, proposals responded to calls to develop the prototype of the European patrol corvette that will increase navies’ interoperability and capabilities. In addition, proposals were received to several calls preparing the ground for the development of next generation fighter systems, the main battle tank, European indirect fire capabilities and strategic air transportation of outsized cargo, which is a core capability for rapid support to missions worldwide.
For the first time in 2023, the Commission opened new types of calls in support of defence innovation under the EU Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS) totalling of €224 million. Spin-in calls that were designed to quickly bring in results from civil EU programmes to defence proved highly successful. The proposals also show good uptake of a call offering consortia the possibility to cascade funds to SMEs and start-ups. Such calls will provide them simpler and easier access to EDF. 2023 also continues to confirm the attractiveness of Technological Challenges, this year on agile and robust human language technologies. Finally, especially high interest has been registered in the three non-thematic calls targeting SMEs and disruptive technologies where the applications have more than doubled in comparison with 2022. This high interest in calls exclusively open to SME consortia and those focusing on Disruptive Technologies confirm that the EDF continues to be highly attractive to smaller companies and newcomers to the defence sector.
The Commission services will now start the admissibility and eligibility checks of the received proposals. Following that, the Commission, assisted by independent external experts, will evaluate the scientific excellence and other award criteria of the submitted proposals, and perform the ethics screening of all projects.
The results of the evaluation are expected to be announced by the end of the second quarter of 2024.