Fieldlab Smart Base for secure peacekeeping missions

Fieldlab Smart Base for secure peacekeeping missions

Innovative companies offer smart solutions for the army base of the future. During peacekeeping missions, Dutch soldiers are exposed to dust, heat, cold and other harsh conditions. To guarantee a safe base for peacekeeping missions in the future as well, Defense needs smart concepts and innovative applications from the business community.

The Army together with the Regional Development Companies (ROMs) NOM, LIOF, InnovationQuarter and Oost NL established the Fieldlab Smartbase: a physical test environment in which 17 SME companies realized 12 experiments. Last May 29, the first phase 'Smart Base 1.0' was completed. On May 31 last, King Willem Alexander visited the Fieldlab Smartbase.

Experimenting for safety

At the barracks in Soesterberg, entrepreneurs are working in a physical test environment on innovations within the themes of energy, water, protection and logistics. One of the experiments involves the Shaded Dome, a lightweight, in shape and size flexible building form based on an overpressure hall manufactured from modern hi-tech textiles. Simon Visser, CEO at Shaded Dome Technologies B.V.: ''Oost NL approached us with the question of whether our Shaded Dome could also provide protection for soldiers during peacekeeping missions. At the Fieldlab Smart Base we experimented and our innovation process regarding ballistic protection gained momentum. We came up with a multilayer membrane construction that protects the user to a high degree from harmful external influences. In addition, Shaded Dome has very low energy consumption and is easy to transport. With this, Shaded Dome has proven to be a sustainable alternative to, in particular, refrigerated workplaces that Defense currently uses.''

Daedalissimo's Hercules construction system realizes an inflatable fragmentation and bulletproof Protective Shelter that is easy to assemble and disassemble. Bivouac military personnel can use this building system to create valuable protection from day one in case of extreme and/or threatening situations. Stijn Rutten, CEO of Daedalissimo: "As a startup, participation in the field lab offers a unique opportunity to further develop the Hercules building system. Thanks to the guidance from LIOF and Oost NL, doors opened that offer me opportunities as a startup to grow my business faster."

In another series of experiments, eight companies are jointly committed to reducing water use by 80%. Here, in addition to water-saving measures, they are mainly experimenting with complementary technologies to intelligently reuse water.

Broadly applicable innovations

All innovations created in the Fieldlab are more widely applicable. Not only for the Army, but also for aid organizations that need to quickly set up a temporary safe location where large groups of people gather. Think of humanitarian camps or locations for large events. The Fieldlab led to a collaboration between the Army and the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation (DCHI). DCHI is a partnership focused on innovation for humanitarian camps for relief in refugee camps and natural disaster areas, etc.).

ROMs linked innovative business to Defense

Defense has faced shrinking budgets in recent years, while there is a growing demand for deployment on peacekeeping missions, such as Afghanistan and Mali. Due to previous reorganizations, the R&D function within Defense has been reduced, while technological developments and innovations in the civilian world are coming about ever faster. In 2015, therefore, Ineke Dezentjé Hamming of FME made an appeal to the Ministry of Defense to cooperate more with industry. The Army picked up the gauntlet, wanting that cooperation with the innovative business community, but not sufficiently familiar with it itself. Defense approached the ROMs to get in touch with innovative companies. Companies showed great interest in participating in the Fieldlab Smart Base 1.0.

Innovative industry and Army work together on security

In 2016, 600 interested SMEs submitted 140 project proposals. Thanks to the ROMs' efforts, these companies gained access to the world of Defense that was still unknown to them. 18 projects were selected for the Fieldlab Smart Base 1.0. Ultimately, 12 experiments were realized at the physical Smart Base at the barracks in Soesterberg by 17 companies. These efforts provided the business community with an innovation boost of €6.8 million in public and private funds. The participating ROMs and the companies involved cooperated intensively with the Concept Development & Experimentation Department of the Army. Obiewan Transitioning supported the process along with open innovation expertise from Red Bluejay Foundation.

Working together on peacekeeping missions

In October 2016, Smart Base was awarded Smart Industry Fieldlab status. Unique to this Fieldlab is the deployment of the Army. After this first successful phase, the partners involved are working together on a larger follow-up program to keep the quality of deployment in peacekeeping missions at a high level.