Croatian Enterprises Hoping for Slice of EDF’s 7.9 Billion Euro Cake

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the European Defense Fund (EDF) has a huge 7.9 billion euros at its disposal, which will be distributed to companies from the military-industrial complex of the European Union, and Croatia, especially the Zagreb-based Dok-Ing, is counting on some serious sums.

However, as almost all European funds have some specifics to them, EDF has the condition that companies from the smallest European Union countries, such as Croatian enterprises, must participate in a specific project.

This was also the key reason for the recent signing of the Business Cooperation Agreement on applications for the European Defense Fund between the Croatian Defense Industry Competitiveness Cluster (HKKOI) and the Estonian Industrial Association of the Security and Defense Industry (EDIA).

The Croatian cluster has already signed a similar agreement with Portugal, and the same has been announced for September with the same institution in neighbouring Slovenia.

As explained by Gordan Pesic from HKKOI, Dok-Ing’s business development manager, this is an important step for withdrawing money from EU funds, but at the same time a complementary cooperation of partners in the development and improvement of products that will be globally competitive.

In this particular case, it is a matter of joining forces on the upgrade of the recently introduced Dok-ing modular robotic system called Komodo.

“We’re targeting connections with industry associations across individual European countries that we estimate have companies with complementary technologies, and based on that, this cooperation is reduced from the national and institutional level to the level of the companies themselves. In this way, companies can create consortia to apply for the future European Defense Fund,” Pesic said, adding that EDF came to life last month, and that he expects that Croatian enterprises will be able to contact it in as early as 2022.

For now, he says, it isn’t possible to estimate just how much capacity the Croatian industry has to withdraw money because it will depend on quality projects.

In addition to that, all of the companies participating in this model, whether they be Croatian enterprises or those from another EU member state, have to have cooperation with the national Ministry of Defense in order to define the technical and tactical features by which the industry would then develop the technology.

With EDF, the ice should be broken for Croatian enterprises by Dok-Ing itself, which will develop the technology for its base platform of the autonomous diesel-electric system Komodo.

“So far, three Croatian enterprises are involved in the project, Dok-Ing itself, which developed the platform, us, the Osijek-based technology company Orqa, which is best known for its smart drone control glasses, as well as for low-latency video information technology, and now the project also includes three Estonian companies that will develop real-time information processing technology,” said Ivan Jelusic, the founder of Orqa.

It was announced that more partners are set to join the project, although for now they didn’t want to talk about any names specifically.

The Estonian cluster

Ingvar Parnamae, a member of the Board of Directors of the Estonian EDIA, pointed out that the defense cluster there includes 107 private companies that generated 209 million euros in revenue back in 2019, of which 100.3 million euros were from exports alone.

He added that most of their members are focused on high technology, be it cyber security, border control, communications, electronic warfare, military medicine, all the way to robotics, drones, simulators and protective equipment to combat vehicles and vessels and equipment for them.

At the end of June, Dok-Ing, a global leader in the production of autonomous vehicles for demining, mining and firefighting, presented its new project – Komodo, which, as they say, is a synthesis of all of the previous knowledge and technology of this company in one single product.

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