“Israel is a very valued partner of NATO”

What are the technological challenges facing NATO in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rising power of China? To understand these complex issues I sat down for a candid conversation with David van Weel, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, during his recent visit to Israel.

Mr. van Weel’s responsibilities span several arenas which fall under the definition of Emerging Security Threats, such as counter-terrorism, cyber, climate change and security and energy security.

“We have a new Innovation Fund , a Venture Capital fund with 22 nations directly contributing to the 1 billion Euro that we are going to invest in tech. We also have a defense innovation accelerator initiative that is starting now. Innovation is coming out of the private sector and into the defense sector.

“Electric cars, for example, are more software systems than hardware systems. We will see the same in the defense industry,” explains van Wheel.

“What we’re trying to do is to bridge that gap between the commercial and military sector in Europe and North America,” adds the NATO executive. “To do that, we are going to make use of existing accelerators or incubators that are already operating in these nations, that are now mainly focused on civilian startups and technologies. We are going to use them, their networks and education programs to create businesses out of good ideas or raw technologies, to actually work on NATO’s problems.

“For example, how can we communicate underwater over a distance of 100 kilometers? It’s something that can’t be done now with existing technology, but who knows, with the technologies that are around the corner, what we might get. We will select the best ideas and co-develop them with military end-users and scientists.”

The Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) project is comprised of two cycles, each lasting six months, for a total of one year. In the first cycle, the companies will receive 50,000 Euros each. Those who make it to the second round will get another 150,000. They will also enjoy NATO’s mentorship.

During his stay in Israel, Assistant Secretary General van Wheel paid a…