Ukraine’s push to become a global defence tech leader

BRAVE1 will boost cooperation between Ukrainian defence tech companies, the government and the military, as well as investors, volunteer funds, and the media.

Ukraine needs a strong defence technology to help it defeat Russia, but it is also eyeing a future as a major player in the sector.

On April 26, Kyiv announced the launch of BRAVE1, a defence technology cluster designed to transform the country into a world leader in defence tech while supporting the military victory of its forces.

Several branches of the Ukrainian government and defence sector are involved in the project, including the Ministry of Digital Transformation, Ministry of Defence, General Staff of the Armed Forces, National Security and Defence Council, Ministry of Strategic Industries, and Ministry of Economy.

Together, they will jointly coordinate the platform with the aim of providing comprehensive support to Ukrainian developers as they create innovative defence technologies and transfer advanced Ukrainian technological solutions to the frontlines.

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Kyiv has worked with its allies to wage a “smart war” driven by the constant development of cutting-edge solutions to strengthen the country’s defence capability, save the lives of soldiers and civilians, and use resources efficiently thanks to various technological innovations.

These include drones, robotic systems, situational awareness centres, artificial intelligence, cyber security, communication systems, and satellite data. Innovative developments for the army have been quickly tested and verified in combat conditions, improving in accordance with the tasks and goals of the security and defence forces.

To accelerate the implementation of such developments, BRAVE1 is being created as the entry point for cooperation between defence tech companies, the government and the military, as well as investors, volunteer funds, and the media.

It will support what is already a robust pool of local tech talent. The 2023 Future of IT in Emerging Europe report, which compares the IT sectors across 23 countries in the emerging Europe region, ranked Ukraine seventh.

Mykhaylo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for Innovations, Development of Education, Science and Technologies – Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, teased the launch of a defence tech cluster at the Tech Emerging Europe Advocates (TEEA) annual meeting held in Warsaw on March 31.

On April 26, he presented the BRAVE1 portal, which allows Ukrainian innovators to submit their projects and get access to military expertise, grants and other opportunities provided by the cluster.

“Ukraine has to become a country that is rapidly developing, learning and actively using technology—especially in the military sector,” Fedorov said. “The launch of BRAVE1 is one of the most important steps in this direction. Our goal is to build a system with a quick launch of defence tech projects to make bold decisions and create better conditions for the development of companies that create military technologies.”

State-level start-up

BRAVE1 will provide grants to developers and projects prioritised for security and defence needs, a platform that unites industry and government stakeholders, and become a base for further scaling battle-tested Ukrainian defence tech solutions globally.

“It is important for us to create conditions for the development of Ukrainian manufacturers,” said Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Serhiy Demedyuk. “We are talking not only about large and experienced companies, but also about small start-ups and growing companies. The BRAVE1 platform will be a state-level start-up for large and small innovative companies.”

The cluster will support both the development of new technologies as well as their regulatory approval and implementation.

“The Ministry of Defence, as a state customer, is responsible for the administration of all stages of the process related to new samples of anti-aircraft weapons: starting from its assessment to the commissioning decision,” said Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defenсe of Ukraine.

“BRAVE1 is a practical tool. We are interested in ‘mature developments’ that could be implemented quickly. We expect BRAVE1 to bring initiatives to the appropriate level of maturity. And then we will pick up and lead through all the labyrinths, to international codification and NATO registers.”

“With such an approach, BRAVE1 will become an accelerator that will help raise initiatives to the level when the Ministry of Defence could pick them up today and plan for the future,” Reznikov concluded.

Photo courtesy BRAVE1/Ukrainian Defence Innovations.

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