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Unlocking Defence Opportunities in the EU: How to Find Funding and Participate in Defense R&D

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

The EU is one of the biggest players in defence research and development (R&D) and also a major source of funding for defence R&D. In this article, we will outline how you can find funding opportunities available to businesses and defence contractors interested in participating in defence R&D in the EU.

Before jumping into the hows, let's look into the importance of participating in R&D and why businesses and defence contractors who wish to enter the defence industry must pay attention to this.

Investing in defence R&D and looking for funding opportunities are crucial and highly important for businesses and defence contractors. These can provide access to the latest technologies and advancements in their respective industries.

Funding allows businesses to invest in research and development, which can result in the development of new products and services that can help them gain a competitive edge in their respective markets. Additionally, defence contractors can use the funding to invest in new capabilities that can help them better serve their customers.

According to EU defence news, it is stated that that the European Union is increasing its funding opportunities in defence research and development (R&D).

This comes as the EU is ramping up its efforts to build a stronger defence and security union. The EU Commission's European Defence Fund (EDF) has seen its budget for 2021-2027 increased to €13.5 billion, with €6.5 billion allocated to industrial R&D, €4.1 billion to defence capabilities, and €3 billion to defence research.

The EDF has also enabled the launch of several new initiatives such as the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), the European Defence Research Programme (EDRP), and the European Peace Facility (EPF).

These initiatives are designed to support collaborative defence projects, foster innovation and encourage cooperation among European defence companies. The increased funding is also expected to drive technological advances in the defence sector, with a focus on cyber security, artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data. This increased focus on defence R&D is likely to have a positive impact on the EU's defence industry, as well as its security and defence capabilities.

In general, businesses and defence contractors have the opportunity to apply for funding and be part of the defence R&D efforts in the EU, however, their chances of success depend on the specific project and the availability of resources.

The chances for businesses and defence contractors to participate in the defence funding programs and be part of defence R&D in the EU depend on several factors which are:

  • Eligibility Businesses and defence contractors must meet the requirements for eligibility set out by the European Union in order to be eligible to participate in the defence funding programs.

  • Access to funding The eligibility requirements for defence funding programs are usually established by the European Commission and the European Defence Agency (EDA). Businesses and defence contractors must meet the requirements for access to funding, such as submitting a project proposal, in order to gain access to the funding.

  • Technological expertise Defence contractors must be able to demonstrate technical expertise in order to be eligible for defence funding. This includes having the necessary equipment and personnel qualifications to develop and implement the proposed defence project.

  • Competitive bidding Businesses and defence contractors must also participate in competitive bidding processes in order to gain access to defence funding. This involves submitting a project proposal and competing with other defence contractors for funding.

  • Commercial partnerships Businesses and defence contractors may also form commercial partnerships with other firms in order to access defence funding. This can be beneficial for both parties, as it allows them to leverage their own resources and expertise in order to gain access to defence funding.

"The European Union has very strict criteria for defence contractors and businesses that want to access defence funding. Companies must demonstrate they have the necessary expertise, experience and capacity to contribute to the successful implementation of the defence project they are proposing. They must also be able to show that they have sufficient financial and operational stability to be able to manage the project." Brigitte Zypries, Former Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany.

Businesses and defence contractors who want to gain access to defence funding must go through a competitive bidding process in order to be considered for contracts. This process involves submitting a proposal or bid that outlines their qualifications, experience, and the specific goods or services they can provide to the government agency or military organisation that is funding the project.

The bids are then evaluated and scored based on a set of criteria, such as price, technical capabilities, and past performance. The contract is then awarded to the company or contractor whose bid is deemed the most advantageous to the agency or organization. This process helps to ensure that only qualified and capable businesses and contractors are awarded defense contracts and that taxpayers' money is spent efficiently on the best goods and services.

So what are the requirements for businesses and defence contractors in order to get access to defence funding in the EU? Here are important points that we have successfully gathered.

  1. Businesses must have a valid VAT number and be registered in the EU.

  2. They must be able to demonstrate that they are able to supply the required defence products or services.

  3. They must be able to provide evidence of their financial stability.

  4. They must have the appropriate certifications and/or licenses required by the relevant defence directives.

  5. They must be able to demonstrate the necessary experience and expertise to deliver the requested defence products or services.

  6. They must comply with the applicable public procurement regulations.

  7. They must be able to provide evidence of their compliance with Data Protection, Anti-Money Laundering, and Anti-Terrorism regulations.

  8. They must meet the applicable EU security and defence regulations.

  9. They must comply with the applicable environmental regulations.

  10. They must comply with the applicable safety regulations.

Furthermore, as previously stated regarding the EDF's new initiatives, we provide you here with deeper insights concerning what each of the initiatives can support you with your R&D and funding opportunities.

DIDP is a biannual program (2019-20) and is a funding program established by the European Union (EU) to support the development and improvement of the European defence industry. The program provides funding for projects that contribute to the development, acquisition, and maintenance of defence capabilities in the EU. The EDIDP aims to enhance the competitiveness and innovation of the European defence industry, as well as to improve the cooperation between EU member states in the field of defence.

is another initiative by the EU to support defence research and development. It aims to strengthen the EU's strategic autonomy in defence by supporting research and development projects that contribute to the development of new defence technologies and capabilities. The EDRP also aims to promote cooperation between EU member states and the defence industry, as well as to support the transition of research results into defence products and services.

The European Peace Facility (EPF) is a new initiative proposed by the European Commission to support external action in the field of peace and security. The EPF would provide financing for the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations, including the financing of equipment, training, and capacity building for partner countries. It would also provide support for the EU's humanitarian, development and stabilisation activities in the region.

It is also worth noting when it comes to finding and participating in R&D and funding opportunities, you can take a look at Horizon Europe. Horizon Europe is the EU's research and innovation program. It includes a dedicated defence research and innovation area and provides funding opportunities for companies and researchers.

You have to also keep in mind many EU member states have their own national and regional funding programs for defence R&D. These programs can be found by researching online or by contacting the relevant government agencies. And building relationships with other businesses, research organisations, and government agencies in the EU defence industry can lead to potential opportunities for collaboration and funding.

Let us help you enter the Aerospace and Defence industry and win a government contract. Contact us at for more information.

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