This article was published on April 9, 2024

Ukraine launches defence tech accelerator amid sector-wide boom

The programme targets new startups that can bring innovative technologies to the field

Ukraine launches defence tech accelerator amid sector-wide boom

Ukraine has launched a defence tech accelerator programme for new startups aiming to deliver innovative solutions for military applications.

The Defence Builder Accelerator is a four-month-long training programme, which will provide full-cycle support for product development. This includes 100 hours of online lectures and eight 1:1 meetings with mentors.

As part of the programme, startups will also receive introductions to investors and further fundraising assistance. In addition, they will get access to testing their products on the battlefield.

The accelerator’s first cohort will comprise 15 startups in total, which will develop technologies in the following fields: avionics; cybersecurity; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV); unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), unmanned service vehicles (USV); software; sensors; demining solutions; and means of electronic warfare (EW) and electronic surveillance.

The project is backed by Ukraine’s military community, the Kyiv School of Economics, and companies including SigmaSoftware Labs, Genesis, and Buntar Aerospace. Interested candidates can apply until April 30, 2024.

Eyes on defence tech

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukraine has been zealously growing its defence tech sector — aiming to turn innovation into the winning advantage against the behemoth’s massive artillery and military power.

Private companies and startups in particular have been playing a pivotal role, from developing smart sensors to providing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for use in the field.

Amid an increasingly unstable geopolitical landscape, the example of Ukraine has shattered the illusion of permanent peace in Europe — and re-ignited interest in defence tech.

“Europe should strive to develop and manufacture the next generation of battle-winning operational capabilities and to ensure it has the sufficient quantity of material and the technological superiority that we may need in the future,” EU President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament in February.

The Commission is already considering allocating funding from its €95.5bn Horizon Europe research programme to support dual-use technologies — those that can have both commercial and military functions.

For its part, NATO has committed €1bn for early-stage deep tech startups developing technologies with security and defence applications.

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