May 27, 2022

October 31, 2023

Military leaders and startup innovators came together to mark the return of Defence Disrupted - and launch of the AWS Defence Accelerator

Defence Disrupted, the world’s premier hub for defence innovation and technology, returned for its first in-person edition.

27 May 2022 - LONDON - Defence Disrupted, the world’s premier hub for defence innovation and technology, returned for its first in-person edition. The event welcomed hundreds of defence leaders, experts and entrepreneurs from all corners of the industry, including senior delegates from MoD, British Army, DASA, BAE Systems, Swedish Armed Forces, Cabinet Office, Anduril Industries, NATO, Women in Defence, and Government of Estonia, amongst many startups at the forefront of defence innovation. 

The opening keynote speech from NATO Deputy Secretary General, Mircea Geoana, highlighted the importance of Defence Disrupted in providing a platform for global leaders, the startup community, and academic bodies to develop and deploy cutting-edge technologies to maintain peace, security and advantage over our rivals, those who threaten our values. Geaona explained how interoperability and cross-sector collaboration is essential to credible defence systems and must sit at the heart of the alliance. He added that NATO has unleashed this potential through the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA), where he announced Imperial College will operate as its headquarters. Closing his speech, Geaona, emphasised the power of open, democratic nations all playing their part to shape the future of technology in maintaining our security for millions of people and future generations. 

One of the most popular sessions saw Kusti Salm, Permanent Secretary for Estonia’s Ministry of Defence, discuss how true innovation in defence isn’t simply about technology but about equipping entrepreneurs with better incentives and fairer access to market. He spoke about how VC investment for defence startups was unthinkable only a few years ago, but now is one of the most crucial paths forward in the current global threat landscape. Joining him on the panel, Caroline Bellamy, CDO at the MoD, focused on the urgent need for Government to shift in  mentality from inviting startup involvement to having disruptive viewpoints exist from within.

Following the startup showcase, AWS and PUBLIC announced live on stage the launch of their first Defence Accelerator - a four-week technical, business, and mentorship programme. Open to UK startups, and EMEA based startups doing business in the UK, the goal of the accelerator is to support startups that use technologies to provide defensive cyber, data discovery and optimisation, space exploitation and sustainability solutions. Applications are open through July 1 2022. Daniel Korski, CEO and Founder at PUBLIC, touched on the previous success of more than 15 accelerators delivered by PUBLIC emphasising how designing a programme around defence was a natural next step to accelerate defence capability and bridge the innovation gap for Government and startups. 

The event’s agenda of panel discussions and fireside chats covered some of the most pressing challenges of our time, from how adversarial powers are exploiting digital technologies to spread disinformation to how climate change is altering the nature of our physical battlefields. Charlie Forte, CIO at MoD, alongside Thomas Nilsson, CIO of the Swedish Armed Forces, provided guests with insights into how to harness the power of data to empower defence’s digital backbone. 

Closing out the day, Forte shared: “Defence Disrupted is a fantastic conference. Disruption has never been more relevant and the insights brought to the table exemplified the value of sharing between a wide variety of officials and innovators.” 

World-leading startup exhibitors also came together to share with Government officials the key ways to dismantle barriers preventing innovation, such as reducing procurement complexities. 

Having launched Defence Disrupted only one year ago, Korski, commented: “A year after  creating a new forum for defence innovation, the importance of innovating the West’s military capabilities, bringing new technologies to war-fighters, has become more important than ever. Russia’s invasion has not only threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty or the freedom and security of the West, but made it all the more important to drive innovation into NATO’s militaries.” 


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Natasha Wren

Head of Communications

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