Le Gouvernement du Grand-Duché du Luxembourg

€1.1 billion for European defence R&D projects

On 6 May 2024, Luxinnovation hosted the Luxembourg European Defence Fund Info Day, connecting defence and security players to explore opportunities in the EDF’s €1.1 billion 2024 work programme.
“The European Defence Fund (EDF) stands as a beacon of collaboration and innovation. One of its key pillars is the emphasis on dual-use technologies. By harnessing innovations that have applications in both civilian and defence sectors, we not only enhance European defence capabilities but also drive economic growth and competitiveness across industries,” explains Benjamin Questier, Director - Innovation and Funding Support department at Luxinnovation, the organiser of the Info Day in Luxembourg.

While co-funding is required for development actions, research actions are funded 100% under the EDF.
Aziliz Guérin, Luxembourg MoD Attachée for EDA & EU Defence Industry, Luxembourg Directorate of Defence.

With a budget of around €8 billion for the 2021-2027 period, the European Defence Fund is the European Commission’s instrument that supports entities in member states to develop collaborative defence projects throughout the entire cycle of research and development. “In addition to supporting innovation, facilitating more cooperation is a primary purpose of the fund by encouraging the establishment of consortia,” emphasises Aziliz Guérin, the Luxembourg MoD Attachée for EDA & EU Defence Industry at the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence.

Last year, a record of 17 Luxembourg entities took part in 27 project proposals, underscoring the increasing interest at the Luxembourg level for the programme which was only launched in 2021. Almost 3,000 participations at the European level were recorded last year.

8 calls, multiple topics

The 2024 work programme with 8 calls and a €1.1 billion budget covers a wide range of topics in critical defence domains, including secure space communication, the development of unmanned aircraft and ground systems, advanced radar technologies, medical emergency simulation and training, energy-efficient and energy-independent systems, non-thematic research and many others. The Luxembourg Directorate of Defence, which co-funds development actions exclusively within the programme’s parameters, has four areas of particular interest: next-generation rotorcraft, multi-source satellite image analysis, quantum technologies and countering hypersonic glide vehicles.

The topic of defence is getting more and more important.
Frane Miloš, CEO, Amphinicy Technologies Luxembourg

“While co-funding is required for development actions, research actions are funded 100% under the EDF,” specifies Ms Guérin. She also expands on the EU Defence Innovation Scheme, a subset of the EDF, earmarked with €225 million “to incentivise SMEs to participate in the EDF” and help innovative companies bring their ideas to defence end-users

Application deadlines

The 2024 EDF application deadline is 5 November 2024. Prospective applicants from Luxembourg must submit a one-page summary detailing their project to the Luxembourg Directorate of Defence by 1 July 2024. This is a preliminary requirement for all applicants seeking co-funding from the Ministry of Defence. Following this, a pitching session will be held on 28 July 2024.

“As the national innovation agency and national focal point for the European Defence Fund, we support companies throughout the process—from finding the best call to fit your ideas to identifying potential consortium partners, as well as technical support to navigate legal, financial, or administrative concerns,” points out Rebecca Damotte, Defence Technology & Innovation Advisor at Luxinnovation.

Master the basics

Panel discussions highlighted the experiences of Luxembourg companies that have successfully secured EDF funding, offering insights into how Luxembourg-based firms can benefit from national co-funding and participate in this major European initiative.

Networking is a key element to prepare for the EDF programme.
Sébastien Pineau, Lead Partnership Officer, LIST

“To succeed in the European Defence Fund programme, you must take a proactive approach. Start by gathering information on the EU defence strategy and analysing past programmes and trends. Then, invest time in understanding the challenges at the EU level through the Capability Technology Groups (CapTechs),” mentions Sébastien Pineau, Lead Partnership Officer at Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. Luxembourg entities are currently active in all 15 CapTech working groups.

Build your network

Most panellists equally underscored the value of networking. “Networking is a key element to prepare for the EDF programme. You have to be visible on the map. Once you are with the big players, you stand a chance of being approached to discuss your contributions further. Invest time in all the events at the EU level and the missions organised by Luxinnovation,” states Mr Pineau.

On 28-29 May 2024, the European Commission will hold a hybrid information day and networking event for potential EDF applicants. Companies developing dual-use capabilities can additionally explore local instruments like the joint R&D calls in the defence sector, for which a webinar is scheduled to take place on 21 May. Eurosatory, is another global event and strategic networking platform taking place in Paris this June for the defence and security ecosystem.

It’s all about turning technologies into capabilities.
Marco Marques, Key Account Manager Space and Defence, Gradel

“The topic of defence is getting more and more important,” emphasises Frane Miloš, CEO of Amphinicy Technologies Luxembourg, a software provider for companies operating in the satellite industry. “We were ready to be part of a big EU project and Luxinnovation provided support by matchmaking us with a French-led consortium,” he underscores. The company worked with partners from 12 countries as part of an open SME development call last year.

Other company representative present at the Info Day in Luxembourg shared experiences of being approached by consortiums for a collaborative project based on earlier interactions.

 “It’s all about turning technologies into capabilities. The programme changed our reputation, expanded our capability and helped to get new customers. We got to understand the need of some major defence companies,” asserts Marco Marques, Key Account Manager Space and Defence at Gradel, one of five Luxembourg entities selected for a €31 million project as part of a consortium of 30 companies from 12 countries under the second edition of the EDF.

Are you interested in applying for the EDF?

Contact Luxinnovation, the national focal point for support.
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