Written by Emma Evans, Defence Policy Advisor

What is the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG)? 

The NIAG was established in 1968 as a high-level consultative and advisory body comprising senior industrialists drawn from NATO member countries, each of them acting as a focal point and spokesperson for their national defence industries. The importance of this relationship is greater than ever because of events in Ukraine. This is concurrent with the evolution and proliferation of emerging technologies that will change the nature of warfare.

NATO’s response recognises the defence industrial base as a strategic capability. This demands a critical review of the many issues sitting astride the NATO/industrial boundary, some of which are identified in the Defence Production Action Plan (DPAP) endorsed in July 2023.  The dialogue between NATO and Industry at the earliest phases of capability and technology development is vital.  

The  NATO Industrial Advisory Group  Plenary, June 2024

On 11 and 12 June, the UK NIAG Delegation, supported by ADS, attended a Plenary session in Amsterdam of the NATO Industrial Advisory Group. Over two days, a series of presentations and discussions were had, covering subjects such as the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington, DIANA, NIAG studies and the NATO Innovation Fund.  

The NATO Communication and Information Agency presented on technology engagement ,as they are currently formulating a technology strategy. The key themes of this are around data exploitation, cloud computing and quantum. They are encouraging industry to attend the NATO EDGE conference in Florida in December to discuss this strategy more, and have a call out for speakers currently. Find out more here. 

There was a presentation on the NATO Innovation Fund, which is the first multi-sovereign venture capital fund dedicated to supporting deep tech, is funded by 24 nations, and has a budget of €1.04bn. They are focusing on providing funding to start-ups who are working on dual use Emerging Disruptive Technologies.

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) provided a presentation on their business units. The NSPA hit over €10bn in contracts last year, although a large portion of that was due to a contract placed for patriot missiles. Over 80% of the NSPA’s work is on multinational procurement. The NSPA wish to increase and formalise engagement with industry in the pre-competitive environment, they have recently opened an office for industry relations to this end. 

Discussion was had on the upcoming NATO Washington summit, and the corresponding NATO Summit Industry Forum which is being held alongside this. Defence industrial strategy must be a core part of the summit discussions, to deliver on the DPAP and highlight the criticality of industry to NATO deterrence.  

An update was given by DIANA (find ADS’s short guide to DIANA here). DIANA are seeking industry support to partner with start-ups to produce proofs of concept, there will then be DIANA funding to build this out. DIANA are also working with the NSPA to look at how to embed rapid adoption of new technologies.  

Following a presentation on the European Defence Industrial Strategy (EDIS) from the European Commissions Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG-DEFIS), conversation was had on the need to align EU strategies with NATO, in order to ensure work is not duplicated, and the DPAP and EDIS are not working in competition to each other. There was discussion on how to ensure collaboration between NATO and the EU, and open more channels of communication at the working level. 

For ADS members looking to get more involved in this area of ADS’ work, they can find out more about our UK Industry NATO Forum here and contact Emma Evans with any questions.