On 22 June 2018, a round-table discussion took place at the Navy Headquarters on the initiative for the establishment of a Centre for Naval Innovative Technologies, during which Navy Chief of Staff Commander Andrius Širvys welcomed the many participants and introduced the main activities of the Navy. Flotilla Commander Tomas Skurdenis moderated and participated in the discussion, and other naval officers also took part in the event.
The European Commission has presented the European Defence Action Plan, in which it outlined the directions of activity necessary to contribute to the strengthening of EU defence and more efficient spending on defence. One of these directions is the creation of a European Defence Fund, in the framework of which full EU funding will be provided for joint defence research projects carried out in priority areas agreed by the Member States. In addition, the fund will give Member States incentives to cooperate in the development and acquisition of defence equipment and technologies (prototype phase), partly through financing from the EU budget for joint projects (up to 20 per cent of the project value). All this and other geopolitical events clearly show how important cooperation is today between academia, business and the military in conducting research and developing and expanding the latest military technology, which is dominated by artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things, robotisation, and other areas of high tech that are currently penetrating our lives.
Taking part in the discussion were Klaipėda University Vice-Rector of Research and Art Assoc. Prof. Dr Rita Vaičekauskaitė, Klaipėda University chief research fellow Prof. Vladas Žulkus, head of the Marine Research Institute fleet Dr Nerijus Blažauskas, head of the Kaunas University of Technology Centre of Real Time Computer Systems Prof. Egidijus Kazanavičius, Enterprise Lithuania Managing Director Daina Kleponė, head of the Enterprise Lithuania Defence and Security Sector Simonas Aleksandravičius, Baltic Institute of Advanced Technology CEO Tadas Žalandauskas (whose institute is currently coordinating the international Ocean2020 project), Klaipėda Municipality Investment and Economics Department Director Ričardas Zulcas, and leaders from other institutions and organisations in the city of Klaipėda. Business representatives, director of the Klaipėda FEZ Management Company Eimantas Kiudulas, and UAB 3Ri defence project manager Petras Jankauskas (UAB 3Ri has been cooperating successfully with the Naval Flotilla for some time now) also participated in the discussion.
Baltic Tech Park CEO Šarūnas Butkus presented Baltic Tech Park’s main fields of activity as well as their ambitious expansion plans in the Baltic States and the entire Baltic Sea region. Mr Butkus promised to provide the Centre for Naval Innovative Technologies with premises, the necessary infrastructure, and technical and organisational support, including in the installation of special laboratories which meet safety requirement standards and are certified by the relevant departments so that start-ups and other high tech companies could use them to conduct military research and testing and prototype production and testing that are subject to special requirements. Together with a delegation from the Klaipėda City Municipality headed by Saulius Budinas, director of the municipality administration, Baltic Tech Park representatives participated in the Karlskrona Innovation Days that took place on 3–4 May, where they met with representatives from Karlskrona University, Blue Science Park, and the Saab Global Innovation Group, who initiated and founded the Karlskrona Underwater Research Centre together with the Swedish military and other departments. A meeting is planned to be held in Klaipėda with representatives of the Saab Group in the near future, and scientists from the United States Naval Research Laboratory and the Karlskrona Underwater Research Centre as well as Lithuanian and foreign scientists should be visiting Klaipėda in September.
During the discussion, it was decided to establish a Centre for Naval Innovative Technologies, which would enable cooperation between the Navy, the academic community and business in the field of naval research, in developing and expanding joint projects in the field of naval research at the European Union and national level.