War in Ukraine has united its Western allies to support Ukraine’s freedom in the fight against the aggressor. In the defence sector, it has triggered an increased demand for armament, defence capabilities and ammunition globally.
Estonia supports its friends in Ukraine with 370 million euros of direct military aid, which is 1% of Estonia’s GDP. In addition, tireless lobbying has been led by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas so that Ukraine could rely on steady Western support. Now, Estonia is applying its technical knowledge to drive innovation in the defence and security sector to enable the deployment of smarter solutions on the battlefield.
On February 15, seven DefenceTech innovators gathered in Tallinn for Defence59, a showcase of some of the most promising technologies being developed in the sector to seek for investment.
On the same day, Estonian DefenceTech flagship Milrem Robotics announced raising the largest foreign investment in Estonia’s defence sector.
Trending topic in DefenceTech: drones
One of the presenters on stage was Marduk, the company behind a world-class electro-optical anti-drone platform. Their product, Marduk Shark, uses patent-pending artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to detect, recognise, and target a variety of drones. Marduk COO Leet Rauno Lember said at the event: “Drones have been playing a big role in the war in Ukraine, highlighting the need for sophisticated drone detection and mitigation solutions. As the use of drones continues to increase, the need for effective counter-drone measures to protect critical infrastructure, sensitive areas and public safety has become more vital than ever.”
Marduk wasn’t the only company talking about drones. Founded in 2021 and led by a team with drone surveillance, IT, and military backgrounds, TrackDeep uses AI-powered tracking to monitor designated areas for security breaches. At scale, TrackDeep is poised to be the air-traffic control company of choice for the rapidly expanding drone industry. CEO Andy Viikmaa said, “The main challenge for Ukraine is to avoid losing their own drones in friendly fire. So far, it is presumed that they have lost most of their drones because of a lack of information. TrackDeep can easily mark drones as friendly or foe to avoid this problem. We can share the info using every communication channel that is available on the field.”
Too much data, not enough knowledge
Speaking of information on the battlefield, another issue highlighted at Defence59 was unstructured data, which stands in the way of timely decision-making in critical situations. While the defence industry has been a leader in technological innovation in the past, it has struggled to keep up with the pace of digitalisation, said SensusQ CEO and co-founder Marko Kaseleht. Veteran-founded, with a combined 140 years of defence experience, SensusQ creates software that fundamentally changes how the defence industry turns an abundance of data into actionable knowledge.
Another company setting out to make critical battlefield decisions easier is Vegvisir. Founded in 2021 by professionals from Estonia and Croatia, Vegvisir builds a mixed-reality situational awareness system (MRSAS) that provides armoured vehicle personnel a better understanding of their surroundings both in daylight and, thanks to thermal sensors, in the dark. Unlike other similar systems, Vegvisir has cracked the issue of latency, enabling VR solutions that do not cause motion sickness in users, as revealed by Ingvar Pärnamäe, CEO and co-founder.
Also having taken the stage on February 15th, Wayren is another prime example of the kind of experience and skill sets driving Estonia’s DefenceTech innovation: Wayren’s founding team developed Estonia’s command and control systems. At Defence59, co-founder and CEO Henry Härm remarked that the company’s mission is no less ambitious than enabling full battlefield digitalisation. Wayren is doing that today by creating easy-to-implement, secure communication systems that are scalable and in high demand for defence operations and other non-military use cases.
Scanning and surveillance
Jaanus Tamm, co-founder and CEO of DefSecIntel, took the Defence59 stage to showcase the company’s leading AI-powered surveillance solutions. The result is the combat-tested track record of their SurveilSPIRE product, which is unique in the world, according to Tamm.
While DefSecIntel already provides security and surveillance systems to clients in over 25 countries, Andi Hektor showcased some brand new technology. His company GScan is on a mission to reveal critical information for customs, public safety, industrial, medical, and space-based applications. Their scanners are developed to sidestep a few clear limitations to X-rays and other scanning technologies. GScan is developing the μFLUX (muon) system, a scanning technology that results in 3D images and insights about scanned objects, whether they’re commonly monitored shipping containers or even static, large-scale structures like bridges and buildings. This disruptive technology is well on track to disrupt the way we keep our cities and people safe.
With all these products springing up on the landscape, the Estonian DefenceTech sector is looking like a safe bet for investing in a more secure world. If you’re ready to invest in one of these hard-hitting companies or looking for other investment opportunities in Estonia, fill out our e-Consulting form, and one of our investment advisors will get in touch soon.
In case you missed out Defence59 event, take 59 minutes and see the full recording here.