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NATO accelerator and two test centres in Finland

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NATO accelerator and two test centres to be established in Finland

NATO’s DIANA (Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic) programme is expanding its network with new sites. Finland is now part of the network since the Board of the DIANA initiative approved a proposal to establish an accelerator and two test centres in Finland. Their mission is to help companies develop technology, innovation and business for the civil and defence sectors.

The preparatory work, which started in spring 2023, was led by the Ministry of Defence and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and required input from several operators, has reached its desired conclusion. VTT is setting up a DIANA accelerator in Otaniemi, Espoo, in collaboration with Aalto University and the University of Helsinki. The test centres will be established at the University of Oulu and VTT’s Otaniemi site.

The operations to be established in Finland will build on decades of strong technological expertise and market success. The technology themes of the accelerator and test centres are related to next-generation communication systems, 6G technology, cybersecurity, quantum and space technologies.

“VTT is honoured to be part of the DIANA network and its accelerator and test centre activities. Finland’s world-class expertise helps pioneering companies to develop the deep technologies that will safeguard NATO and its billion inhabitants,” says Sauli Eloranta, Vice President, Defence at VTT.

DIANA accelerator to train companies to operate in the defence sector

VTT is setting up a DIANA accelerator in Otaniemi, Espoo, in collaboration with Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, which will focus on the communication systems and quantum technologies of the future. This will provide a special training programme that will help companies develop deep technologies and innovations for commercial and defence purposes. It will also provide companies with extensive and varied training on how to develop business opportunities in the defence sector.

The accelerator’s services will be specifically targeted at start-ups and SMEs with limited experience in the defence and security sector.

“The long-awaited decision is significant for Finland as it is the first time that Finnish operators will be able to harness their cutting-edge expertise for NATO’s DIANA innovation activities on such a large scale. Our country has a large number of technologically advanced and innovative start-ups and SMEs, which have found it difficult to invest in export in the defence sector. DIANA will support this activity free of charge by using the accelerators to train companies in NATO technical and procurement requirements and by developing company-specific business training programmes. Such a mechanism provides a high-speed lane for companies to enter a difficult but fastest growing industry internationally – I hope Finnish companies will participate as widely as possible,” says Eloranta.

DIANA selects companies for accelerators through its application process. This procedure is called the DIANA challenge programme. The first round of applications for the Finnish DIANA accelerator will be launched in 2024, and it will be open to start-ups developing dual-use solutions in NATO countries.

Test centres provide tools for further technological development

The technology test centres will be established at VTT’s Otaniemi site and the University of Oulu. VTT’s Otaniemi Test Centre will focus on secure connectivity, space and quantum technologies. The test centre at the University of Oulu will offer companies the opportunity to test 6G network technologies.

DIANA test centres are places where companies can strengthen their technological expertise and competitiveness. The research infrastructure and experts provided by the test centres will allow companies to evaluate their own concepts and technologies and get support to develop them. In practice, the test centres will consist of a comprehensive set of existing research facilities and equipment, as well as top-level expertise in the sector. The centres will also support the development of start-ups participating in the accelerator programme.

It will be possible for all companies in NATO countries to purchase the test centre services, regardless of whether or not they belong to a DIANA accelerator.

“Finland has a strong position as a developer of civilian communications systems, thanks to companies like Nokia. DIANA offers a fast track for many companies to enter the NATO defence market,” says Eloranta.

What is NATO’s DIANA initiative?

NATO’s DIANA initiative aims to identify future challenges in the defence and security sector and work with companies to find technological solutions.

“Part of DIANA’s strength is our unique transatlantic network of talent centres and innovation leaders working toward a common purpose. The breadth and diversity of partners in DIANA’s network will accelerate the development and deployment of ground-breaking solutions for defence, security and peace,” says Professor Deeph Chana, Managing Director of DIANA.

The initiative focuses on new technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomy and quantum technologies, which are dual-use in nature, i.e. they can be commercially exploited in both the civil and defence sectors.

DIANA in brief

  • NATO established DIANA to help develop dual-use technologies that meet security and defence challenges. DIANA supports companies working on solutions in key sectors identified by NATO member states.
  • To meet the needs of a changing world, NATO is identifying, developing and deploying emerging and disruptive dual-use technologies.
  • DIANA is NATO’s innovation accelerator, bringing together innovators from member states to support NATO’s technological leadership, defend its one billion citizens and maintain peace and security.
  • DIANA provides companies with training, funding, commercial advice and access to defence expertise and investors. Participating companies are developing dual-use technologies to address major defence and resilience challenges.

The importance of DIANA to Finland
Finland’s DIANA accelerator and test centres will increase Finland’s visibility and the business opportunities
for Finnish companies among other NATO countries as a developer of dual-use technologies. Finland’s
strong position, especially in the development of new-generation communication technologies, is likely to
attract operators and expertise to Finland. Finland’s profile as a major power in dual-use communication
technologies will also make it more attractive to international financers and strengthen Finland’s
technological input as a member of NATO.
The benefits of DIANA
a. Helping civilian companies to enter the defence market
b. Strengthening the security of supply of national technological know-how
c. Attracting international talent and funding to Finland
d. Networking and partnerships between industry and research institutes
e. Strengthening (defence) industry foundations
f. Bringing together innovators developing disruptive technologies and trusted providers of funding
g. Nationally adopting NATO’s RDI philosophy
h. Profiling Finland as a major power in dual-use communication technologies
What does DIANA do/What is DIANA aiming for?
a. Brings together end-users and promising startups and small businesses through a network of
accelerators and test centres
b. Identifies potential new dual-use technology companies and brings them into NATO circles to
develop common defence and security
c. Helps companies to improve business opportunities and cooperation with the defence sector
d. Proves the military potential of dual-use technological solutions
e. Seeks to integrate technological solutions into the military capabilities of the member states
f. Enables companies to get follow-up contracts and funding
Why was it decided that VTT would coordinate DIANA in Finland?
a. It was essential (and also an essential criterion) to find an established RDI actor in Finland that is
sustainably resourced and linked to the national innovation ecosystem in as diverse a way as
possible. VTT is a traditional state-owned organisation with strong international networks and a
proven track record in national research and development. VTT has the VTT LaunchPad function
that commercialises research and technology, and the DIANA accelerator network is being built
around this in collaboration with partners.

b. In April 2023, Finland became a member of NATO and also a member of DIANA. DIANA was
launched in June 2023, so the window of opportunity for Finland to propose national elements for
the initiative’s network was tight. VTT’s activity and willingness to coordinate DIANA in Finland
created an excellent basis for cooperation.
c. From the perspective of the Ministry of Defence, it is important to support the implementation of
DIANA by tying Finland more firmly into NATO cooperation structures and by strengthening the
competence base of the Finnish defence industry. It is also important to strengthen Finland’s
technological profile in NATO, especially in terms of new-generation communication technologies
and quantum knowledge.

What is the role of the Ministry of Defence in DIANA?
The Ministry of Defence acts as the national responsible authority for the proposal and approval of national
DIANA elements (accelerators and test centres) and as the official liaison with the DIANA Secretariat. The
Ministry of Defence represents Finland at DIANA Board meetings and contributes to defining the
technological priorities of the initiative.

How can Finnish companies benefit from DIANA?
Finnish companies can participate in the DIANA challenge programmes, which will be used to select the
companies invited to the programme. Companies selected through the challenge programmes will receive
100,000 euros in the first phase for product development and some of the selected companies will receive
300,000 euros in the second phase. In addition, companies will be able to test their technological solutions
and prove their dual-use potential at DIANA test centres, as well as develop their business opportunities in
DIANA accelerators. The DIANA network serves as a platform for companies to network and build new
international partnerships. In the best case, companies will find an end-user for the technology they
develop or a longer-term follow-on funder through DIANA.

Finland’s contribution
DIANA is a programme outside NATO co-funding. The costs of DIANA’s activities (staff costs and funding for
businesses) are co-financed by the member states (GDP-based contribution). DIANA’s total budget for 2024
is around 50 million euros.

What is a DIANA accelerator (Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic)?
The DIANA accelerator programme is a special training programme to help companies develop deep
technologies and innovations for commercial and defence purposes. The programme also develops other
business skills that will help companies operating commercial and defence markets. It is specifically
targeted at startups and SMEs with limited experience in the defence and security sector.
Training at a six-month hands-on ‘boot camp’ consists of ten modules in which early-stage startups develop
their activities enabling them to grow into strong players in the business world. Through lectures,
workshops and mentoring, participants learn how to develop to operate effectively in commercial and
DIANA Q&A defence markets. The programme uses experienced experts from the NATO network as mentors and
applies a variety of methods to identify market and customer needs, develop technologies and engage
investors. The programme also focuses on intellectual property rights, cyber security and risk management.
Companies in the accelerator programme can develop their technological skills through DIANA test
DIANA is a unique accelerator programme that supports the success of companies developing disruptive
technologies in the defence and security markets of NATO countries. The transatlantic innovation
ecosystem brings together the resources of academic research, industry, government and investors, and
provides access to the national initiatives of its members.

How can businesses apply for the DIANA accelerator?
DIANA selects companies for accelerators through its own application process. This procedure is called the
DIANA challenge programme. The first call for 2023 has already closed and 44 companies were selected for
the first pilot accelerator programme. Companies will be able to apply for the accelerator to be set up in
Finland in late 2024, according to a preliminary estimate.

What is a DIANA test centre (Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic)?
DIANA test centres are places where companies can develop and evaluate their business concepts and
technologies and receive support for their development.
Test centre services are open to all companies in NATO countries, regardless of whether they belong to a
DIANA accelerator. The test centres provide expertise, services and infrastructure to companies for a fee.
DIANA test centres also support the development of startups participating in the accelerator programme in
various ways. At test centres, companies can develop and evaluate their business concepts and
technologies and receive support for their development.
DIANA test centres are specifically approved entities located in NATO member countries, such as
universities, research centres and laboratories.

Who are the Finnish accelerator and test centres for?
a. The DIANA accelerator and test centres to be set up in Finland will be aimed at startups
that have been accepted into the DIANA challenge programme, with a special focus on
next-generation communication technologies.
b. Companies applying for the challenge programme can express a wish to be part of a
specific accelerator at the application stage.
c. A DIANA accelerator is not national in scope, i.e., all startups developing dual-use
solutions in NATO countries can apply.

Which operators are involved in setting up accelerators and test centres?
a. VTT is establishing an accelerator focusing on next-generation communication systems and
quantum technologies in collaboration with Aalto University, the University of Helsinki and
other accelerators.
b. The University of Oulu is setting up a 6G test centre in collaboration with VTT. The test
centre will be located in Oulu.
c. VTT is setting up a test centre for secure connectivity, space and quantum technologies.
This test centre will be located in Espoo.
Which technologies will Finland’s accelerator focus on?
The accelerator will focus on next-generation communication systems and quantum

Which technologies will the Finnish test centres focus on and what will they do in practice?
a. The 6G Test Centre (6GTC) will provide advanced wireless communications facilities,
services and processes for research and testing by companies. The test centre will consist
of two interconnected sites in Oulu: one on the main campus of the University of Oulu and
the other on the nearby VTT premises. The test centres will work in close cooperation with
another Finnish DIANA test centre, the Secure Connectivity, Space & Quantum Test Centre
(SCSQ), coordinated by VTT. This cooperation will allow for a wide range of experiments. It
will be possible to carry out testing in both sheltered, secure laboratory environments and
challenging, outdoor Arctic conditions.
Once completed, 6GTC will serve as a global testing centre providing DIANA partners and
the wider ecosystem with dual-use testing applications and services in response to the
defence sector needs identified by NATO.
The test centre will enable the development, testing and customisation of future
communication technologies for various critical application areas such as remote area
communication, autonomous mobility and machine-to-machine communication. The 6G
frequencies and radio technology using large antenna arrays in the global 6GTC will enable
research aimed at combining telecommunications and observation. 6G networks aim to
combine the features of a mobile network and radar by using radio equipment not only to
transmit data, but also to detect objects in the environment and monitor changes.
The test centre will have access to world-class, rare radio frequency measurement
equipment. It will be possible to carry out all measurements and testing related to the
development of 6G technology in one place. The radio measurement equipment will
include a large RF echo chamber and RFIC sensor stations, which are essential for successful
radio testing. The test centre will have a highly capable test network with the latest
commercial network technologies, software radio-based environments, simulation and
emulation systems. The test centre will also provide a platform for distributed AI solutions,
both for managing the 6G network and for controlling devices and implementing
applications for users. Research into 6G antennae, radios and radio-frequency integrated
circuits (RFICs) is currently successful up to 330 GHz.
The test centre’s facilities will enable not only the development of future technologies, but
also the testing and development of technologies for various applications and commercial
operators. In this way, domestic defence industry and NATO’s technological development
can be accelerated.

b. The Test Centre for Cyber-secure Communication and Quantum and Space Technologies
will provide advanced facilities, services and processes for research and testing by
companies, focusing on this theme. The centre will focus on the dual use of these
It will consist of several different research facilities located at VTT’s premises at Otaniemi,
Espoo. In addition to communication technologies, the facilities will include quantum
computers, cybersecurity development environments, and laboratory and cleanroom
facilities for space technology development and testing.
The centre will be able to implement and test space-based electronics, develop satellite
sensors, antennae for space missions, ground station solutions and the integration of
space-based connectivity.
The test centre will provide access to leading ecosystems in security and
telecommunications, space and quantum technologies, as well as cutting-edge theoretical
and applied research. It will support the development of dual-use technologies for defence,
security and civilian use, and enable technology assessment and training in disruptive
technologies, enhancing NATO’s capabilities.

Who will make the decisions on the companies selected for the accelerator?
c. DIANA will decide which companies are selected for the accelerator. Companies applying
for the accelerator programme can express a wish to be part of a specific accelerator at the
application stage.

When will the test centres and accelerator start operating?
In Finland, the DIANA network will be fully operational by the beginning of 2025 at the latest.

What is the difference between a DIANA accelerator and test centre compared to a NATO Centre of
Centres of Excellence (CoEs) are international military organisations that train senior NATO personnel and
experts. The Centres of Excellence support, among other things, the development of NATO doctrines, the
strengthening of the interoperability of member states and the testing and validation of different concepts.
The Centres of Excellence operate under the NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT) but are not part
of the NATO command structure.

How can I get involved in DIANA operations?
DIANA Q&A Defence-oriented companies can participate in the 2024 DIANA challenge programme to qualify for the
free accelerator programme starting in 2025. Companies can directly contact test centres that charge a fee
in order to test dual-use solutions.
You can also contribute to the organisation of DIANA activities by arranging facilities, training, mentoring,
funding, etc. by contacting VTT. There is no separate funding for this activity.

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