Tuesday, August 1, 2023

"NATO announces $1B fund to back startups supporting ‘safety, freedom and human empowerment’"

 From TechCrunch, August 1:

After announcing plans nearly two years ago, defense alliance NATO has officially closed its first fund to back startups that are building technology strategic to NATO’s own goals in defense and security.

Member nations are collectively committing capital totalling €1 billion (around $1 billion at current rates) to the NATO Innovation Fund, which plans to make both direct investments in startups, as well as indirect investments in other funds that in turn back startups focused on emerging and disruptive technologies that are “responsible and led by fundamental principles: safety, freedom, and human empowerment.” Areas of focus will include AI and autonomy, biotechnology, quantum computing, space technology and hypersonic systems, energy, new manufacturing and materials, and next-generation communications.

Modelled somewhat on In-Q-Tel in the U.S., the idea will be to keep the investments strategic, with some (but maybe not all) investments leading to services that its member states, or NATO itself, might use. The NIF will look mainly at early stage investments — that is from pre-seed through to Series B — and it might also make follow-on investments. Initial checks will be up to €15 million. The first investments will be announced in September, the organization said; none have been made so far.

The aim is to operate NIF like a “classic VC.” That is to say, there will be future funds, and it’s been designed to exist in perpetuity, a spokesperson said.

Many countries have notably set up sovereign funds that back technology startups and investors, both in their own countries and in other geographies and categories viewed as strategic; NATO says that its Innovation Fund will be the “first multi-sovereign venture capital fund,” covering contributions from NATO members....


And what, interested but wary reader may be asking, what is NATO's purpose?

As we saw in April 2023's The U.S. Army Info War Division Wants Social Media Surveillance to Protect “NATO Brand”:

Despite having more than a passing interest in such things, I'm not sure I could give our readers a definition of NATO's brand. 

One famous statement of purpose can be found on NATO's website [emphasis in original]:

Lord Ismay

Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay was NATO’s first Secretary General, a position he was initially reluctant to accept. By the end of his tenure however, Ismay had become the biggest advocate of the organisation he had famously said earlier on in his political career, was created to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”....


Granted, not quite as stirring as Churchill's

“You ask, what is our aim? 

I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” 

But serviceable.