NATO taps half-a-dozen US companies for first DIANA cohort

A senior official confirmed — for the first time — which U.S. tech players were tapped in this original cohort, and what they're up to now.
(Photo by GERARD CERLES/BELGA/AFP via Getty Images)

Six U.S. companies are participating in the first cohort of NATO’s initiative to enable a transatlantic network of accelerator sites and test centers that can coordinate and push more innovation across the military alliance, DefenseScoop has learned.

The half-dozen firms are among a total pool of 44 that were tapped for the effort.

A 50-page unclassified but unpublished NATO document obtained by DefenseScoop last week, and an email interview on Wednesday with a senior alliance official, shed new light on what’s unfolding in the earliest stages of the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA), and who is involved.

“DIANA is looking to complement national efforts to scale deep-tech, dual-use innovation and promote smooth adoption pathways,” Adrian Dan, NATO’s chief commercial officer for DIANA, told DefenseScoop.


“We are working on a number of partnerships to help make this happen, including exploring conversations with like-minded investor communities, and building stronger linkages with private industry. Close collaboration with NATO’s 32 nations is key to bridging the gap between innovation, adoption and capital, and will help to build resilient and flexible ecosystems that support a peaceful global future,” he said.

Building on momentum since DIANA launched a little more than two years ago, NATO recently unveiled plans to expand the network’s reach in the near term and host innovation hubs in 28 of its member nations.

The first two DIANA “acceleration sites” in North America are operating in Boston and Seattle.

Broadly, officials leading the initiative issue “challenges” in specific high-priority problem areas for the alliance, and ask innovators to propose solutions in response. Those companies handpicked to engage then receive training, funding, commercial advice, and access to defense expertise and investors via DIANA’s still-growing network.

In its “pilot year,” the challenges cover three areas: energy resilience, undersea sensing and surveillance, and secure information sharing.


There were more than 1,300 applicants who sought to join this original accelerator program in 2023, and the 44 companies ultimately chosen out of that bucket are now participating in a six-month bootcamp.

“The current cohort has been taking part in the accelerator program delivered throughout our five global accelerator sites. [There are] three in Europe and two in the U.S. Each site will organise a ‘Demo Day’ for their respective companies to help expose their technologies to potential end users, and provide a platform for companies to show off their progress,” Dan explained in the email.

Source: unclassified NATO document viewed by DefenseScoop/approved for release

According to the NATO document shared with DefenseScoop last week by a U.S. defense official involved in DIANA, four American companies were picked for the undersea sensing and surveillance challenge set. 

The energy resilience and secure information-sharing challenge areas each have one U.S.-based participant — making a total of 6 American companies involved.


“The first cohort emerged from a highly competitive, two-stage process and included companies from across the full Alliance. The innovation ecosystem in the U.S. is strong, and we saw that reflected in the success of American companies across the three challenges in the pilot year, particularly in Sensing and Surveillance,” Dan told DefenseScoop.

The approved proposals in that area include a “robot modified for the seabed to locate and track natural and manmade moving objects,” a “renewable ocean wave energy platform that can easily be deployed anywhere offshore to host and provide power and communications to a wide array of undersea applications,” and more, the document states.

“We are looking forward to seeing high quality applications from American companies for the next round of challenges that we will launch in the summer of 2024,” Dan noted.

As the high-profile, multi-national acceleration effort continues to scale up and evolve, he and his team at NATO aim to eventually reach 10 challenge calls per year. As a result, they also expect an increase in the number of companies that will be tapped for the program. 

“Our first cohort expanded from the initial 30 to 44, reflecting the volume of high-quality applications that we received. For our second round of challenges, we anticipate five challenge areas, and we will select a minimum of ten companies per challenge topic. As we grow, we may select greater or fewer companies in each area depending on our budget and the quality of applications received,” Dan said.


“DIANA supports the building of interoperability and capacity throughout the 32 Allied Nations, and so we will be looking for a fair geographical balance where possible, while ensuring excellence and technological talent are always the top criteria,” he added.

Brandi Vincent

Written by Brandi Vincent

Brandi Vincent is DefenseScoop's Pentagon correspondent. She reports on emerging and disruptive technologies, and associated policies, impacting the Defense Department and its personnel. Prior to joining Scoop News Group, Brandi produced a long-form documentary and worked as a journalist at Nextgov, Snapchat and NBC Network. She was named a 2021 Paul Miller Washington Fellow by the National Press Foundation and was awarded SIIA’s 2020 Jesse H. Neal Award for Best News Coverage. Brandi grew up in Louisiana and received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.

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