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DIANA, NATO’s newest initiative into venture capitalism with a focus on addressing climate-related security concerns or climate tech startups, is looking to invest over 1 billion Euros. In total, NATO has invested in 43 startups

NATO has ventured into a new domain and has launched its first business accelerator program mainly for climate technology startups, under its NATO Investment Fund. The new initiative, known as the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic or DIANA, signifies NATO’s foray into venture capitalism, with a focus on addressing climate-related security concerns.

Launched in 2023 with a purse of Euros 1 billion which has been sourced from NATO’s member countries, DIANA was set up to invest in technology that enhances energy resilience and addresses security threats exacerbated by climate change.

This move reflects the need for NATO to innovate or invest in new tech in the face of evolving geopolitical challenges, including the recent conflict in Ukraine.

Startups accepted into DIANA’s program focus on cybersecurity, surveillance, and energy resilience, with an emphasis on clean energy solutions. These startups receive initial grants and gain access to specialized testing facilities and resources.

For example, Ionate Energy, a British startup in DIANA, is working on modernizing grid transformer equipment to better manage renewable energy supplies.

Another example would be GaltTec, a startup specializing in energy-efficient fuel cells. Found by Glen Kelp, a physicist, along with two colleagues, they developed exceptionally thin ceramic tubes, much thinner than hair strands. These tubes have the potential to revolutionise fuel cell technology, and offer lighter and more energy-efficient solutions for powering electronic devices and grid systems.

Such investments show NATO’s interest in technology startups beyond traditional defence sectors.

In total, NATO’s DIANA, has invested in about 43 such startups.

Despite the military context of NATO’s involvement, DIANA does not take equity in participating companies. Instead, it facilitates connections between startups and defence agencies, offering opportunities for commercial and government partnerships.

However, some investors have expressed concerns about backing companies servicing the military due to potential ethical and financial implications.

Looking forward, DIANA has plans to expand its focus to include startups working on smart grids, nuclear fusion, sustainable aviation fuel, and artificial intelligence. While facing scepticism from some energy companies regarding military partnerships, DIANA emphasizes its commitment to addressing common energy challenges and fostering innovation in the climate technology sector.

With DIANA, NATO aims to leverage startup investment to bolster energy resilience and mitigate security risks associated with climate change, signalling a shift towards proactive, technology-driven approaches to security and defence.

(With inputs from agencies)

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