The Benefits of Dual-Use Technology for Defence

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Army Exoskeleton

The Dual-Use Technology Model in Europe

Italian SME Signo Motus is active in the field of electro-rheological fluids (ERF), a smart nanomaterial that can rapidly change from a liquid to solid state within milliseconds when an electric field is applied.

The technology has myriad applications for defence. It can be used, for example, to improve the efficiency of shock absorbers for heavy armoured vehicles or in the development of exoskeletons.

The business is growing, but they wanted to explore the opportunities for sale of their solutions in multiple sectors.

In collaboration with Consorzio Arca and Europe’s biggest SME network, the Enterprise Europe Network, Signo Motus received their first €50,000 grant to adapt the technology for the medical market. Initial research was promising, and they submitted a project to be funded under the SME Instrument programme.

The company later got access to the European Defence Agency (EDA) to discuss the opportunity to adapt their exoskeleton design for soldiers.

SME's and Start Ups Leading Innovation in Defence

The so-called ‘dual-use’ technology model in defence offers the military a more rapid and financially sustainable means through which to experiment with and procure new technologies.

Against a backdrop of government-led innovation accelerator policies and new defence industrial frameworks being published, SMEs, startups and the non-traditional defence sector will be influential actors in shaping the new defence industrial and technological base. 

The priority now is ensuring that there is funding available to support these organiastions in developing their capabilities further and exploring their applications in a range of sectors. The setting up of the Enterprise Europe Network is an example of this commitment to innovation in defence.

To find out more about European dual-use technology initiatives and the work of SMEs and startups, you can refer to and