NATO’s €1bn innovation fund has made its inaugural investments in deep technology, focusing on novel materials and manufacturing, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and space technology.  

Launched in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fund aims to enhance technological sovereignty and bolster deep tech hubs in regions where early-stage startups are seeking capital. 

Backed by NATO allies, the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF) has directly invested in four European technology companies.  

London-based chipmaker Fractile is set to receive funding to accelerate large language models, similar to those behind ChatGPT. Meanwhile, Germany’s ARX Robotics will receive funding to develop unmanned robots for a range of functions, including heavy-lifting and surveillance.  

The investment also extends to iCOMAT, a British company focused on creating lighter materials for vehicles, and Space Forge from Wales, which leverages the space environment to develop advanced semiconductor materials.  

These materials are crucial for enhancing capabilities in telecommunications, aerospace, and quantum computing. 

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In addition to company investments, NIF is supporting venture capital fund managers focusing on early-stage deep tech in both civilian and defence markets.  

This strategy is designed to cultivate capacity in regions with high demand for funding. 

NIF’s regional focus includes Southern and Eastern Europe, and the Nordics.  

Partnerships with Alpine Space Ventures, OTB Ventures, Join Capital, and Vsquared Ventures are part of this investment initiative. 

Alpine Space Ventures specialises in space sector investments, while OTB Ventures, originating from Central Europe, targets spacetech, enterprise automation & AI, cybersecurity, and fintech infrastructure.  

Join Capital is a Berlin-based fund investing in industrial and enterprise technology, and Vsquared Ventures focuses on AI, energy transition, new computing, and sensing, among other sectors. 

NATO Innovation Fund chair Klaus Hommels said: “Congratulations to NIF’s investment team on reaching this significant milestone. This initial portfolio of investments exemplifies NIF’s mission to advance defence, security and resilience and promote the development of dual-use ecosystems across the NATO Alliance.”