New R&D center with focus on Belgium's essential security interests

(03-12-2021) The Mine Counter Measures (MCM) lab creates a close collaboration between universities, industrials and research institutes.

Ghent University contributes to these collaborative R&D efforts by focussing on scientific challenges as digital infrastructure and data management, digital twins, energy efficiency, predictive maintenance, and more.

On November 25, Naval Group announced the creation of its Mine Counter Measures (MCM) R&D Center of Excellence (COE) in its subsidiary Naval Group Belgium with a network of Belgian partners. This MCM Lab is one of the key components of the industrial cooperation plan associated to the rMCM program notified in 2019 to Naval Group and its partner ECA Robotics by the ministry of Defense of Belgium.

The strength of this research laboratory is that it includes partners with complementary technological skills and approaches. It will bring together a close collaboration between universities, industrials and research institutes in order to pursue R&D activities with the aim of accelerating the development of innovations and preparing the evolution of mine warfare systems. It will become a European reference for Mine Warfare Research and Development and will be taking a key role in European initiatives in the domain of MCM. Collaborations between MCM Lab partners are already ongoing around high-value thematics such as robotics, artificial intelligence or acoustic discretion.

Philippe Méléard, CEO of Naval Group Belgium, says: ‘The setup of this collaborative structure is one of the cornerstones of Naval Group and ECA Robotics’ industrial cooperation plan, which aims at setting up a long-term presence in Belgium in key strategic domains through a series of measures satisfying Belgium's Essential Security Interests.’

The MCM Lab is a collaboration between Naval Group, Naval Group Belgium, ECA Robotics, ECA Robotics Belgium, ABC (Anglo Belgian Corporation), BATS (Belgian Advanced Technology Systems), DotOcean, Space Applications Services, Ghent University, Université Libre de Bruxelles and the VLIZ (Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee). 

Ghent University will contribute in the training and education activities through (co-)supervising doctoral thesis projects as well as in collaborative R&D efforts addressing important scientific challenges including in the areas of digital infrastructure and data management, digital twins, energy efficiency, predictive maintenance, and more. At present, our researchers are participating in setting up several European funded proposals together with the MCM Lab partners and other renowned European institutions, where Ghent University researchers focus on research for multi-modal sensor data fusion for advanced vessel perception in order to increase the safety and reduce navigational accidents, including collisions with other vessels and with marine mammals.

Ghent University believes that the MCM Lab is a prime example of how academia and private companies can work together on defence technology in a responsible way. Ghent University is committed to only develop technology that also has benefits for civil society and collaborate with entities not involved in human rights violations, in line with its policy on dual-use research.