Defence SMEs - things are happening!
At the beginning of June, an article by our Managing Director Nico Scharfe entitled "Wehrtechnischer Mittelstand - es tut sich was!" was published in InfoBrief Heer, Issue 3, emphasising the importance of the defence SME sector for the Bundeswehr and the security and defence industry. In it, the current efforts of the Federal Ministry of Defence to build partnerships with SMEs are positively highlighted. At a Parliamentary Evening in September 2022, the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence, Mr Thomas Hitschler MdB, and the author in his role as head of the Initiative Group for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (IGMI) introduced the topic "Current Perspectives of the Defence SME Sector" with keynote speeches. Afterwards, the topic was deepened in a panel discussion. In this context, the author, as a representative of small and medium-sized enterprises, expressed concerns about the fact that the investment funds from the special fund do not reach small and medium-sized enterprises and that large companies benefit much more from the award opportunities. He made the recommendation to formulate measurable goals for the defence SME sector and to work out a joint definition with the ministry. He said that in certain niches, SMEs could certainly hold their own against large companies, and thus more direct awards could be made to SMEs. In a situation where innovations are needed more than ever, these could often come from SMEs, which are able to adapt quickly. The Federal Ministry of Defence is showing its interest in closer cooperation by setting up a round table and revising the SME concept. However, personal talks and an exchange between politicians and SMEs would continue to be important. In May 2023, the Federal Minister of Defence personally took the time to express his appreciation to the defence-related and expressly emphasised its importance. In addition to securing funding, he listed three other main goals of his current work: Securing support for Ukraine, ensuring an operationally ready Bundeswehr and communicating the security policy context to our society.