It has been intense days at the Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Sweden.
During four days, 100 guests from leading positions within the Dutch and Swedish defence industry filled the halls of the Dutch embassy to attend the “Swedish-Dutch Defence, Security and Aeronautics Innovation Day and EDF-mission.”
The event was initiated by the umbrella organizations of the Swedish and Dutch defence industry organisations SOFF and NIDV, together with Dutch RVO, the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and The Netherlands Innovation Network Sweden. As the name suggests, the program encompassed two parts:
- A “Defence, Innovation and Aeronautics Innovation Day” including an “Ice-breaker reception” at the residence of the Dutch embassy
- An European Defence Fund (EDF) mission including company visits of the Dutch delegation at Swedish SAAB and Teledyne FLIR
Following up on the memorandum of understanding
The timing of this event could not have been better as the situation in Ukraine calls out for tighter European cooperation!
However, preparations of this event have already taken place much earlier, as Swedish SOFF and Dutch NIDV, have been planning to do a follow-up event on their Memorandum Of Understanding, which was signed in 2019 in The Hague, already before the Corona crisis.
“SOFF:s main goal is to promote the common interests of the security and defence industry in order to achieve the best possible preconditions for future business.”www.soff.se
“The NIDV acts as information provider, advocate and service provider for the Dutch Defence and security sector.”www.nidv.eu
Breaking the Ice
To get to know each other and to “break the ice”, the first part of the event was a reception at the residence of the Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Sweden.
Here, Dutch ambassador to Sweden Bengt van Loosdrecht opened the event with a speech about the building the guests were located in – The former home of Dutchmen and canon builder Louis de Geer!
What Louis de Geer probably would have said if he knew that today the top leaders of the industry he once worked for gathered in his very own halls?
The future of Dutch-Swedish defence collaboration
On the next day, all participants gathered at the Dutch embassies biggest hall for the “Defence, Security and Aeronautics Innovation Day.”
As the name tells, this day focused on innovations within the topics of defence, security and aeronautics!
Many grand names were found on the program of this day including Dutch Deputy NAD Rear Admiral Jan Willem Hartman and Swedish Deputy NAD Anders Sjöborg who jointly presented the possibilities for Sweden and The Netherlands from a Ministry of Defence perspective (see picture below).
Other highlights included:
- An introduction of the current status of European defence policies and industry by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs
- The business perspective presented by Damen and Damen Naval
- A powerful keynote speech on the joining of forces between The Netherlands and Sweden within defence by the Swedish state secretary of defence Jan-Olof Lind
- A joint speech and “joint holding of the microphone” by Dutch ambassador to Sweden Bengt van Loosdrecht and Swedish ambassador to The Netherlands Johannes Oljelund as a symbol for the good collaboration of the two countries
- A lecture by Jan Terlow, Director of SAAB NL showing several practical examples of Saab’s novel defence technologies
- A panel discussion on cybersecurity, disruptive technologies, space and drones between representors of the Swedish Defence University, the Swedish Armed Forces, The Netherlands Aerospace Centre and the scale-up company MineKafon
- Presentations on climate change and sustainability within the defence industry by General (Ret) Tom Middendorp, NL Special Envoy for European Defence Cooperation as well as Eva Axelsson, Chief Sustainability Officer at Saab AB
- A panel discussion on the role of small and medium enterprises within the European Defence Fund and the defence industry by representors of Swedish Clavister and Dutch scale-up T-Minus
- A panel discussion by SOFF and NIDV on their experiences about the European Defence Fund so far
Connecting Dutch and Swedish defence research organizations
Asking John Dekker, Senior Innovation Advisor at The Netherlands Innovation Network Sweden and organizer of the event from Dutch embassy side over the achievements with this event, he explains that: “One particular achievement of this event is that we connected the Dutch and Swedish defence research organizations TNO and FOI with each other.”
“One particular achievement of this event is that we connected the Dutch and Swedish defence research organizations TNO and FOI with each other.”John Dekker, Senior Innovation Advisor, NL Innovation Network Sweden
John Dekker explains that research organizations within defence do not always find each other.
Accordingly, he is happy that The Netherlands Innovation Network Sweden has been given the opportunity to organise this event as it brought the organizations closer to each other which in return will help The Netherlands and Europe to implement its defence innovation and research agenda.
During their presentations, TNO and FOI focused in particular on updates within their current research areas.
Furthermore, an overview of the historical roots of the collaboration between the research organizations as well as an on current and planned future cooperation projects was given.
European Defence Fund mission
The second part of the event was a European Defence Fund (EDF) mission.
The aim of this part was that the present companies find partners and start forming consortia for concrete projects within the European Defence Fund.
The EDF-mission was officially opened by NL Special Envoy for European Defence collaboration Tom Middendorp who explained about the importance of this subject given the current developments within Europe.
After presentations on the European Defence Fund and in particular Swedish and Dutch EDF coordination by the Swedish EDF coordination office at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration FMV and the Science and Technology Department at the Dutch Ministry of Defence, 22 companies on each side where gathered in break-out sessions across five rooms throughout the embassy.
In the break-out session, individuals gathered across the topics of space, digital transformation, underwater warfare and materials and components – Each topic supported by an expert and moderator.
The day ended with an individual matchmaking as well as drinks at and outside of the embassy.
Company visits at Swedish Saab and Teledyne FLIR
Here the Dutch delegation learned more on the Swedish defence system, the history of SAAB as well as the increased focus on European Defence Action.
Furthermore, a presentation was given by Jan Terlouw, Director of SAAB NL who shared unique insights into the future plans of SAAB Netherlands and concrete collaboration opportunities.
At Teledyne FLIR, who is the world leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of thermal imaging infrared cameras, an outline of the companies history, its current technologies as well as the insights into how the company is positioning itself within different markets was given.
A great success
It is no doubt that the event was a huge success!
In fact, 70% of the Dutch participants answered in the final evaluation that they have found Swedish partners during the event with whom they want to do defence projects in the future.
A total of 62% of the Dutch participants have hereby found partners to build consortia with within the European Defence Fund.
The majority of Dutch participants have found 2,3 or more potential partners for future projects.
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