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United Arab Emirates (UAE) state-owned defence contractor EDGE Group has acquired a majority stake in Estonian robotics developer Milrem Robotics, EDGE announced on 15 February. The transaction is the largest foreign investment in Estonia’s growing defence industry, it said.

Milrem Robotics will join EDGE as a new unit within its Platforms and Systems cluster, complementing the group’s existing capabilities in several areas, EDGE said.

Milrem shareholders also include Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, which acquired a minority stake of 24.9% in the company in mid-2021. Other shareholders include the company’s founder and CEO, Kuldar Väärsi, as well as Estonian private investors, which include employees of the company as minority shareholders, according to EDGE.

Milrem Robotics will continue to be headquartered in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, and will also operate offices in Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United States, employing around 200 skilled workers, EDGE said in its press release.

The ever-growing Milrem Robotics has been developing unmanned vehicles for a decade. The company specialises in the development of intelligent unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) and robotic warfare solutions as well as concept-of-operations (CONOPS) and warfare doctrine analysis, EDGE stated. Its main products are the THeMIS UGV and a civilian variant called the Multiscope, the Type-X unmanned combat vehicle and the MIFIK land vehicle autonomy package. The THeMIS UGV is intended to support dismounted soldiers, while the Multiscope addresses commercial applications in areas such as forestry work and firefighting.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) state-owned defence contractor EDGE Group has acquired a majority stake in Estonian robotics developer Milrem Robotics. (Photo: EDGE)

H E Faisal Al Bannai, Chairman of EDGE Group, said: “EDGE’s investment in Milrem Robotics, a company with an established reputation as a leader in robotics and autonomous systems, is also an investment in the future of EDGE, which is fully focused on developing such capabilities in its various fields. It will allow us to flexibly realise the goals and ambitions of both companies in an increasingly diverse and highly competitive market, share technology and expertise, and provide Milrem with the necessary support to develop its resources and talents for further international growth as part of EDGE and also contribute to the growth of the Estonian state defence industry.”

Milrem CEO Väärsi added: “Milrem Robotics has been going through an intensive investment round to find ways to expand further and EDGE Group, which includes 20 different state-of-the-art technology and defence companies in various fields, provided us with the best opportunity to realise our ambitions for further international growth in terms of presence and development of our industry-leading solutions.

“I am also pleased that we can continue to work with our other strategic minority shareholder, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, whose expertise has significantly influenced the work of Milrem Robotics since [KMW] acquired a stake in 2021. We look forward to a successful future together.”

Milrem is involved in the EU’s integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System (iMUGS) and Combat Unmanned Ground Systems (CUGS) development programmes and is even the co-ordinating company for iMUGS. With its majority shareholding in Milrem Robotics, EDGE thus also acquires access to the results of European defence research.

Gerhard Heiming