news | 6 June 2024

Battlefield Realities: Ukraine’s Brave1, DIU and NATO Host Innovators Forum Focused on Leveraging Emerging Technology and International Cooperation


KRAKOW, POLAND (June 6, 2024) - On the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the NATO-Ukraine Defense Innovators Forum, co-hosted with the Defense Innovation Unit, concluded its three-day event designed to bring together stakeholders from across their innovation ecosystems to address some of the most pressing issues involving dual-use technology today. Hosted at Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza (AGH) University of Krakow, the event included panels focused on stark battlefield realities from Ukraine, an unmanned aerial systems hackathon, and an education series for startups.

“The confluence of bright minds, collected resources, an urgent problem set, and a common vision creates amazing possibilities,” said Liz McNally Young, DIU Deputy Director of Commercial Operations. “DIU’s commercial efforts do not stop at our own borders, but are coordinated with our international initiatives to create, expand and deepen the commercial and investor network, implement programming for partner nation start-ups and non-traditional companies, and catalyze private investment in new capabilities.”

About 400 participants from more than 17 countries attended the Forum, including government and military leaders, operators, developers, industry partners, investors, and academia from more than a dozen countries. The event provided the opportunity to address real-world operational challenges and lessons learned around small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) activities, collaborate on strengthening supply chains and establishing more efficient pathways to get emerging technology to the frontlines. The hackathon demonstrated the ability to address real world problems quickly. 

“Getting all the right partners in the same room together solving critical warfighter needs serves as a model for positive and constructive collaboration on current and future operational challenges,” said David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Innovation, Hybrid and Cyber. “The Forum brought our Ukrainian partners and allies together to help Ukraine today and bolster allied forces for tomorrow.”  

The commitment of the time of the attendees, reflects the importance of international relationships and the criticality of supporting Ukraine’s need to re-build, grow and strengthen their industrial base. This event was built on the success of the 2023 Ukraine and the Future of Unmanned Aerial Systems forum in Warsaw. 

“Shared interests bring coalitions together, but what makes those partnerships enduring are shared values. At the top of that list is freedom and the [unified] global defense of countries that seek it,” said Maj Gen Edward Vaughan USAF, Executive Director of the Joint Rapid Acquisition Cell, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, who provided a keynote address. “This week’s event underscores the significance of collaboration and innovation in maintaining global security and promoting mutual values across allied nations.”

“We believe that Ukraine is a central hub for defense tech innovation for the future. Ukrainian developers are already showcasing solutions that are changing the contemporary view on strategies and tactics in combat operations. We are confident that Ukrainian experience in warfare combined with technologies and expertise from allies has the potential to serve as a technological foundation for a safer and more secure Europe,” said Nataliia Kushnerska, COO of Brave1.  “Working together, we should focus on building an innovation highway between our allied countries, building and sharing new capabilities fluidly at the speed of need.”

Solving emerging challenges for our collective security is an imperative for the sponsors and organizers of the event that included NATO, NATO Innovation Fund, Brave1, DIU, the National Security Innovation Network, AGH University, the Polish Ministry of Defense and the Dronecode Foundation.