Innovation ecosystems and the creation of new security capabilities

 08. 12. 2023      category: Topic
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The development of new security and defence capabilities is a key aspect of the modern world, where dynamically changing threats require innovative approaches to eliminate them. An innovation ecosystem that supports the creation of these capabilities is becoming an increasingly important prerequisite for the practical provision of national and international security and competitiveness. This article explores what such an innovation ecosystem can and should look like in order to optimally contribute to the development of new security and defence capabilities.

Foto: Rozvoj nových schopností v oblasti bezpečnosti a obrany je klíčovým aspektem moderního světa | Shutterstock
Picture: Developing new security and defence capabilities is a key aspect of the modern world | Shutterstock

Innovation ecosystem definition

The innovation ecosystem can be understood as a complex network of organizations, institutions, government agencies, private sector and academic institutions that work together to support the creation of innovations and their practical implementation in the market and security environment. In the context of security and defence, this ecosystem includes not only security institutions, but also companies that develop technologies and products to provide security and defence, research institutions, universities and companies that provide consulting and other services (e.g. education, training, etc.).

Key elements of the innovation ecosystem

Security institutions: these entities have direct responsibility for security and defence provision and the greatest experience in developing the needs for new capabilities for practical security and defence provision. They are therefore the main investors in their research. They are also responsible for identifying strategic security and defence needs and thus creating real demand for innovative solutions.

Private/corporate sector: These are business entities (companies) of various sizes, including small start-ups and large corporations, which develop technologies and products applicable to security and defence. These companies bring technical expertise and an entrepreneurial spirit to the innovation ecosystem that can significantly accelerate the creation and implementation of innovations.

Academic institutions: Universities and research institutions play a key role in providing the expertise and research infrastructure for innovation projects. Collaboration with the academic sector can lead to the discovery of further new technologies and approaches.

Investors and venture capital: For start-ups and small companies, which often have limited resources, investors and venture capital are key sources of funding for their innovation activities. Investors can support new innovation projects in various ways and contribute to their necessary growth and development.

Benefits of having a security and defence innovation ecosystem

There are several benefits associated with creating a strong innovation ecosystem in the security and defence sector:

Faster response to threats: thanks to the wide range of actors within the innovation ecosystem and the flexible and effective collaboration, countries and their security systems can respond more quickly to new and constantly changing security threats, thereby enhancing their own security and national defence, which is certainly in the vital interest of every state.

Enhancing competitiveness: the innovation ecosystem can strengthen a country's own competitiveness at the international level by enabling the development and export of advanced security and defence technologies.

Development of local industry: The creation of an innovation ecosystem can also support local industry and create new jobs.

Improving living standards: Security and defence innovations can also have civilian applications and contribute to improving the living standards of the population.

Examples of innovation ecosystems in security and defence in Europe

Europe has many examples of successful innovation ecosystems in the security and defence sector. Some countries, such as France, Sweden and the UK, are investing in R&D and fostering collaboration between government organisations, the private sector and academia.

France is known for its strong security and defence industry, which is based on a long tradition in this field. The country has a complex innovation ecosystem that includes government agencies, large companies and small start-ups.

Sweden is another example of a country that strongly supports innovation in security and defence. The local ecosystem includes renowned research institutions and companies specialising in defence technology development.
The UK is known for its ability to combine military needs with innovation from the civilian sector. Innovative technologies and products are being developed here that can be used for both defence and civilian purposes.

Creating an innovation ecosystem in the field of security and defence in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is still at the beginning of creating a functional innovation ecosystem. Although we already have various institutions for creating innovations in the field of security and defence, the degree of their integration into a functional innovation ecosystem is still minimal. 

If we want to change this, we will need to make a fundamental process change in this area. In particular, the state will have to do something to ensure that the development of innovation in the field of security and defence becomes a real strategic priority for the Czech Republic and is implemented on Czech territory. For example, by:

  • set up a government committee for strategic security (probably under the State Security Council, which manages the Czech security system), which would not only ensure the process of creating innovative projects in the field of security and defence, but also manage the state fund for security infrastructure,
  • support the creation of a national centre for security and defence innovation within the Czech security system, which would ensure the same activities as the NATO-Diana platform on a national scale - in particular the creation of innovation accelerators and test sites in the field of security and defence in the Czech Republic.

It is certainly necessary to work on other projects to support the creation of innovations in the field of security and defence, without which there cannot be a functional innovation ecosystem - test centres, test criteria, innovation camps, innovation intelligence, etc.

The creation of a functional innovation ecosystem for the creation of new capabilities in the field of security and defence in the Czech Republic is a key prerequisite for further securing the country's vital interests.

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