Estonia to support companies for developing smart defence products

In 2022, the Estonian defence ministry will support the country’s companies with nearly €700,000 for developing smart products for the defence industry; the money will go to seven companies that participated in the Defence Innovation Competition.

The supported projects include a tactical data exchange platform compatible with a combat control system, an infrared thermal camera for both satellites and drones, a directional mine training system, a mixed reality solution for armoured vehicles, a gyrostabilized electro-optical system compatible with different platforms, and a universal container for decontaminating and washing vehicles and equipment, the ministry said in a statement.

An opportunity to test products with the Defence Forces

“The competition gives many Estonian companies their first practical experience in developing innovative defence industry products. In addition, the defence ministry assists companies in securing external funding from the European Defence Fund for further product development and promotes business diplomacy by supporting the companies in reaching foreign markets. During the period of 2013–2021, we have supported 41 projects with a total of €3 million,” Tiina Uudeberg, the undersecretary for defence planning at the ministry, said.

The cooperation between the defence industry and the Estonian Defence Forces is of critical importance because the industry needs the advice and recommendations from the Defence Forces to develop the best solutions, Uuderberg noted, adding that it also created an excellent opportunity to test products with the Defence Forces.

This year, 12 companies submitted 11 applications to the competition. The total cost of the projects was €2.55 million, with €1.13 million requested from defence ministry.

A group of Estonian soldiers from the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion. The image is illustrative. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

The projects that received support in 2022:

Wayren/DefenceLab, “Tactical Data Exchange Platform with Armoured Troops Awareness System Integration” – €71,184; 45% of the total project cost

Hevi Optronics, “Development of control electronics and software for gyrostabilized electro-optical systems” – €74,655; 45% of the total project cost

Defensphere, “Vegvisir Mixed Reality Situational Awareness System” – €199,731; 45% of the total project cost

Milson “Directional Mine Training System” – €15,156; 45% of the total project cost

SpaceIT, “MilCaM: Multi-Sensor Thermal Infrared Camera for Satellites and Drones” – €103,725; 45% of the total project cost

Bristol Trust, “Universal Container” – €200,000; 31% of the total project cost

Hevi Optronics is designing and developing precision-engineered electro-optical sensor systems for commercial and defence applications. Image by Hevi Optronics. 

The primary supporting measure for the defence industry

The Defence Innovation Competition is the defence ministry’s primary supporting measure for Estonian companies developing defence-related products.

The competition has a budget of up to €700,000. One project can receive a maximum of €200,000 in support. The support of the defence ministry for one development project is generally 25%, but may reach up to 45% of the total project cost, depending on the potential of the project.

The requests were assessed by a commission that included representatives from the defence ministry, the Estonian Defence Forces, internal security authorities, Estonian economic development agencies and universities.

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