The NATO Innovation Fund

Shaping the future of warfare?

The headquarters for the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF) will be established in The Netherlands. What opportunities and challenges will this multi-sovereign capital fund bring – and in what capacity will the development of new technologies impact the military field? To answer these and other questions the Netherlands Atlantic Association hosted the lunchtime event: The NATO Innovation Fund: The Future of Warfare on June 14 in Nieuwspoort with David van Weel (NATO), Agnes Venema (DCAF) and Mariette Koopmans (Deeptech Equity NL) about the opportunities, challenges and importance of this fund. The conversation was moderated by Alex Krijger.

The NIF is one of NATO’s initiatives to drive innovation within the alliance. The fund must be seen as a financial partnership between participating NATO Allies as Limited Partners and an investment management arm designed specifically for this fund.  The NIF is mainly created to invest over 1 Billion Euro over the course of the next 15 years into early-stage startups and other venture capital funds developing dual-use emerging and disruptive technologies to be used in military and defence applications. One of the main goals is to bring back commercial innovation power to NATO. Investments by the fund will not solely be based on military applications. For instance, investments made by the fund could also involve both cleaner and greener use of resources.


The discussion between the participants on the stage at Nieuwspoort touched upon various subjects with great importance in relation to the fund, this included ethical and moral considerations when it comes to the use of Deeptech and dual-use technology from Ms. Venema’s perspective. In addition, according to Mariëtte Doornekamp, the size and scale of a project such as the NIF has to be taken into consideration as this has great influence on whether the fund will be successful in the future. Ultimately, Mr. van Weel went into more detail on the sources of the funds that individual NATO members contributed to the fund, while he also covered the state of the European investment infrastructure.


The NIF will target high-risk companies and support them with capital to minimize the investment risk. Besides investment, it provides a connection for startups within NATO’s innovation ecosystem, as it gives the potential to sell technology to the 23 participating countries, however it is worth mentioning that both France and the US will not be participating in the fund. After the ratification of the fund an independent board will assess the submissions and investments will be made. All in all, the Netherlands Atlantic Association looks back on a successful event.



David van Weel

David van Weel is Assistant Secretary General Emerging Security Challenges at NATO. Van Weel started at the Royal Netherlands Navy and continued his administrative career at The Netherlands Ministry of Defense. He served as the Chief of Cabinet for the Minister of Defense and Permanent Secretary. He later became Director for International Affairs and Operations/Policy Director. Prior to joining NATO, he worked as a Foreign Policy and Defense Advisor for Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

As Assistant Secretary General, Van Weel serves as the primary advisor to the NATO Secretary General in the field of emerging security challenges and their implications for NATO’s security. Furthermore, he also directs and manages the Emerging Security Challenges Division, which focuses on disruptive technologies, cyber, hybrid threats, and data policy.


Agnes Venema

Agnes Venema is an intelligence and national security researcher with expertise on the intersection of security, technology and law. She is currently investigating the emergence of disruptive technologies, such as AI and Machine Learning, and the legal implications of the use of these technologies in society. She also works as Senior Policy Officer for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Malta, with a focus on rule of law and security.

Venema’s knowledge is derived from a decade of experience working on various international security issues. She holds degrees in Human Rights and Criminal Justice, as well as Liberal Arts and Sciences. Her recent projects focus on deepfakes, foresight and hybrid threats, and the use of technology for the identification of people in counter-terrorism efforts.


Marriette Doornekamp is Partner & Portfolio manager at Deeptech Equity NL. She has held several positions in the board of directors / supervisory board of different industrial companies and financial institutions. Among others, Doornekamp was member of the board of directors of ABP Pension Fund for a period of 12 years and member of the board of directors of Menzis for a period of 10 years.


Doornekamp started her career as credit lender with among others ING and Commerzbank where she was mainly focusing on restructuring of bad debt & companies. After this she joined Damen Shipyards (an international leader in shipbuilding) as Executive Board member & CFRO, where she was instrumental in growing the business and executed several large acquisitions.


Alex Krijger

Alex Krijger is a geopolitical analyst and public commentator. With a background in History and International Relations he has more than 20 years of international experience in helping businesses manage international government affairs and mapping geopolitical risks. His experience comes from his extensive works in both business and politics.

Currently, Krijger is Founder and Managing Partner of his company Krijger & Partners – which helps businesses navigate emerging geopolitical challenges and supports them in advocacy, government affairs and stakeholder management. Alex will be the moderator of our event.

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