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Matchmaking for the AI challenges in Defence

Defence matchmaking
Labour-extensive systems, strong innovative capabilities, an authoritative information position and multi-domain, integrated action are important aspects for building future-proof armed forces. Current developments in data science and AI provide the foundations as well as opportunities for progress.

This was the background to the Defence working group set up by the Netherlands AI Coalition (NL AIC) and the Dutch Ministry of Defence to organise the first of a series of matchmaking meetings on 9 September. The event was organised by the NL AIC together with NIDV (Netherlands Industries for Defence and Security), Royal NLR and the Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (Brabant Development Society). Led by Wilco Riemersma, a senior vice-president at CGI, it explored the opportunities to strengthen the triple-helix cooperation with the armed forces.

Programme

There were inspiring speakers such as Jeroen van der Vlugt (Chief Information Officer at the Ministry of Defence), Sjoerd Sevissen (commander of the army’s Robots and Autonomous Systems unit) and Kees van der Klauw and Antoine Smallegange on behalf of the NL AIC. After the introductory session for all attendees, the participants had an opportunity to pitch their own organisations in smaller groups, explaining how they could help tackle the armed forces’ technological challenges. The outcomes of these sessions were discussed in another plenary session and agreements were made about the follow-up.

Triple-helix collaboration

We would like to highlight an example. Take Sjoerd Sevissen’s inspiring use case for the planned programme for developing C-UGS (combat unmanned ground systems). This presentation triggered a healthy discussion about the ways that the commercial sector and centres of expertise could assist. It became clear that cooperating with the Ministry of Defence yields various indirect advantages as well;

  • the ministry is an exacting party that needs high-end solutions, and working on these kinds of solutions leads to insights that can be directly applied in other sectors.
  • Moreover, the ministry has an environment, equipment and personnel at its disposal with which both full and partial solutions can be tested realistically.

The combination of this C-UGS programme plus the funding opportunities that the AINed investment programme offers is generating opportunities for parties to make proposals about relevant themes and challenging use cases that the Netherlands as a whole can also benefit from.

Follow-up

The other application areas listed in the Defence Strategy will be discussed in subsequent meetings. These cover topics such as military decision-making for C2 and intelligence, operations, operational security, logistics and predictive maintenance. A matchmaking event will also be organised to bring various parties together to produce concrete proposals. NIDV members and participants in the NL AIC’s Defence working group will be informed of these meetings by e-mail.

If you’re interested in this topic and would you like to be actively involved, register with NIDV or become a member of the NL AIC and benefit from our defence knowledge and network and other relevant AI themes.

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