EU to fund three drone and space tech projects

The European Commission has announced it will launch three flagship projects involving drone technologies, space-based connectivity, and space traffic management.

The announcement is part of a wider action plan on synergies between civil, defence, and space industries to “further enhance Europe's technological edge and support its industrial base.”

The Commission said that EU funding presents the opportunity to “reinforce European innovation” by exploring the disruptive potential of tech at the interface between defence, space, and civil uses, including technology like cloud, processors, cyber, quantum, and artificial intelligence.

The EU body said that a drone technology project would enhance the competitive of EU industry in the market and with a strong defence dimension.

The space-base secure connectivity project will aim to provide a “resilient connectivity system and high-speed connectivity for everyone in Europe” and is based on quantum encryption.

The space traffic management project is required to avoid collision events that may result from the proliferation of satellites and space debris, while ensuring an autonomous access to space.

"With the European Defence Fund we have a strong potential for synergies between innovation in space, defence and civil research & innovation. We need this for a number of critical technologies,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president for ‘a Europe fit for the Digital Age.' “This action plan is a systematic and methodological approach to synergies in critical technologies across the three worlds. The idea is for innovations to systematically reach multiple uses by design. And to allow tapping into the huge innovation potential of researchers and start-ups."

Thierry Breton, commissioner for internal market, said: "Making the most of the European Defence Fund and ensuring strong synergies between defence, space and civil technologies will generate disruptive innovations and allow Europe to remain a global standard setter. It will also reduce our dependencies in critical technologies and boost the industrial leadership we need to recover from the crisis."

The main goals of the Action Plan are to:
• Enhance the complementarity between relevant EU programmes and instruments covering research, development and deployment to increase efficiency of investments and effectiveness of results (the synergies);
• Promote that EU funding for research and development, including on defence and space, has economic and technological dividends for European citizens (the spin-offs) and;
• Facilitate the use of civil industry research achievements and of civil-driven innovation in European defence cooperation projects (the spin-ins).

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