The innovation potential of dual-use research and technologies has been highlighted by the High-level Expert Group on Key Enabling Technologies (KET) in 2015:
“Dual‐use products, services and technologies can address the needs of both civilian and defence communities. Dual‐use technology transfer is the ability to adapt a technology developed in one sector for use in the other. KET as building block technologies embedded in the most advanced products have high dual-use potential. Advanced materials, nano‐electronics, photonics, and KETs-enabled Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), unmanned systems and automation are just a few examples of fields in which research, technology development and manufacturing can be used for multiple applications.”
The European Commission (EC) also recognises the potential and relevance of KET for potential application in dual‐use innovation, including within the framework of Horizon 2020.
“Within Horizon 2020, the areas of “Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies” including the “Key Enabling Technologies” (KETs) and “Secure Societies” (Societal Challenge), offer prospects of technological advances that can trigger innovation not only for civil applications, but also have a dual-use potential.”
The European Defence Agency (EDA) has been working to facilitate access to European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for defence-related dual-use R&T projects in the form of piloting and tailored-made technical support. Several projects have already been approved and are often led by Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprises (SME).
Dual-use receives additional relevance considering the upcoming Horizon Europe and European defence research programme. In June 2017, the EC launched the European Defence Fund (EDF) to direct EU funds in support of collaborative defence research and capability development with the Member States. For the first time, EU funds are being mobilised to support the whole life-cycle of defence product development to support European strategic autonomy. It will launch within the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) from 2021 to 2027 and will integrate the current Preparatory Action on Defence Research (PADR) and European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) that focus on defence research and capability development respectively.
The EDF is being set up to support European industries in being more innovative and competitive, boost cross-border integration within the EU and specifically support SMEs and Mid-Caps in the defence sector. It therefore complements the Horizon Europe programme (follow-up to Horizon 2020) where support is available for the civilian sector with the same purpose.
High Level Expert Group on Key Enabling Technologies – Final Report KETs: Time to Act – June 2015
7COM(2014) 387 final http://eur‐lex.europa.eu/legal‐content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52013DC0542&from=EN