European Defence Fund (EDF) Work Programme 2023 Adopted by European Commission

The Work Programme worth €1.2 billion will support defence collaborative research and development projects through calls for proposals that are anticipated to open for applications in June 2023.

The European Defence Fund (EDF) is the European Commission’s flagship programme for supporting collaborative defence research and development. The programme aims to reduce fragmentation and foster an innovative and competitive defence industrial base.

The EDF supports competitive and collaborative projects throughout the lifecycle of research and development, from research to prototype development up to certification, to achieve a bigger impact on the European defence capability and industrial landscape. Calls for proposals cover all military domains and key domain enablers to enable the Commission to respond to the needs of Member States while targeting critical capabilities that are essential for the future.

The European Commission has now formally adopted the 2023 Work Programme of the EDF. The Work Programme sets out 34 topics falling under four thematic calls for proposals, alongside three calls focused on disruptive technologies and SMEs. The forthcoming call topics will facilitate projects in vital domains, such as space situational awareness for countering hypersonic missiles and, in the naval domain, the prototype development of the European patrol corvette (EPC).

The 2023 Work Programme sees a 50% increase in funding dedicated to SMEs and research organisations for non-thematic R&D compared to 2022, providing stronger support to small and medium-sized defence companies. In addition, the 2023 EDF Work Programme ensures continuity of funding for some significant projects initiated under the previous EDF calls for proposals as well as the two EDF precursor programmes.

The 2023 Work Programme also introduces a series of new measures to promote defence innovation under the umbrella of the EU Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS), including the following:

  • A call for the organisation of a series of defence hackathon events across multiple European locations.
  • Calls that include financial support to organisations (cascade funding) to support development of innovation test hubs.
  • Specific calls designed to support the further exploitation of EU civil-funded research to test its applicability for military end users.
  • €20 million for defence equity facility (similar to 2022).
  • The Commission will further develop matchmaking activities to accelerate business partnerships.

The total value of the fund in 2023 is €1.2 billion.

Applications for Call Topics in the 2023 Work Programme are expected to open on 15 June and close on 22 November 2023.

(This report was the subject of a ResearchConnect Newsflash.)