Landmark NCT Europe 2024 and PRO Challenge Event Takes Place in Zagreb, Croatia


By NCT Consultants

The 11th edition of Europe’s biggest CBRNe conference and exhibition – NCT Europe – has for the first time seen its integration with the NCT PRO Challenge training concept at a week-long event at the Abandoned University Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia.

Welcoming approximately 400 delegates to the unique CBRNe event combining a conference with two streams, industry exhibition, and live simultaneous CBRNe trainings, NCT Europe 2024 and NCT PRO Challenge took place from Monday 20 May to Friday 24 May.

The NCT Europe conference welcomed 30 speakers from a diverse range of countries and institutions, including but not limited to the European Defence Agency, NATO, EU Commission, INTERPOL, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, the United States of America, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. In addition to the 30 non-commercial speakers, nine speakers representing eight sponsoring companies also took the floor during NCT Europe.

The two simultaneous conference streams were chaired by Col. Günter Povoden, Head of Chemistry at the Austrian Armed Forces CBRN Centre, and Mr. Michael Balboni, Managing Director and President of Redland Strategies and former Deputy Secretary of Public Safety of the State of New York.

Chairman Col. Günter Povoden addresses the opening plenary of the NCT Europe 2024 conference on Tuesday 21 May, © NCT Consultants

NCT Europe 2024: From Landmines in Ukraine to Pandemic Preparedness in Croatia

The NCT Europe 2024 conference covered the hottest topics in CBRNe defense. While the conference’s opening plenary took place on Tuesday afternoon with presentations from Ms. Eirini Lemos-Maniati of NATO, CSM (Ret.) Davor Petek of DOK-ING, and Mr. Markus Barner of Kärcher Futuretech, the eight thematic blocks across the two full days of conference took place on Wednesday and Thursday. These sessions focused on:

  • A Lethal Legacy: Challenges in Demining, UXOs, and IEDs in Post-Conflict Environments
  • Every Second Counts: Delivering Medical Countermeasures
  • Civil-Military Cooperation in a Host-Nation Environment
  • Drug Crime and the Gateway to Terrorism
  • Strengthening CBRN Capabilities in Europe and Beyond
  • Here We Go Again: Preparing for the Next Pandemic
  • Unmanned Vehicles: A Double-Edged Sword
  • The Threat of Proliferation: Non-State Actors and Private Military Companies

Particular highlights included presentations from Col. Serhii Reva of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine on the landmine problem in his country caused by Russia’s ongoing full-scale invasion; Col. Friedrich Aflenzer of the European Defence Agency on their work strengthening the European Union’s collective CBRN defense; and Dr. Alemka Markotić of the Zagreb University Hospital of Infectious Diseases on Croatia’s pandemic preparedness strategies.

PRO Challenge Joins Forces with NCT Europe

For the first time ever, NCT Europe 2024 saw it integrated with NCT Consultants’ unique training concept, known as NCT PRO Challenge. First taking place in 2022, NCT PRO Challenge consists of a whole week of briefings, trainings, and live CBRNe scenarios using the latest equipment and solutions provided by sponsoring companies.

This year, NCT PRO Challenge welcomed over 20 police, civil defense, first responder, military, SWAT/SOF and other training teams from a wide range of European countries, including but not limited to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Italy, Latvia, Belgium, Greece, and Kosovo.

Guided by expert instructors, these teams received training in no fewer than 16 different scenarios developed by NCT Consultants simulating different CBRNe operations. These included raiding an underground drugs lab suspected to be producing IEDs with a chemical payload in “Drug Lab Gone Rogue”, demining a field near the venue in “Green Grass”, and assessing contamination after a CBRN device detonated close to an expeditionary force camp in “Chemical Fieldtrip”.

Event diamond sponsor DOK-ING showcased their new manned/unmanned vehicle for counterterrorist operations, MV-3 Hystrix, during NCT PRO Challenge at the Abandoned University Hospital in Zagreb, © NCT Consultants

PRO Training Video Feeds

Another critical element of this edition of NCT Europe was the integration of video feeds from PRO Challenge trainings into conferences sessions. This provided delegates with a hitherto unrivalled opportunity to witness how the theory being discussed in conference sessions and solutions on display in the exhibition can be put into practice, in real-time.

The two conference chairmen Col. Günter Povoden and Mr. Michael Balboni also provided a live commentary to the video feeds, giving additional expert insights into the strategies behind and progression of each operation displayed during conference sessions.

Beaming footage from training areas into conference areas either live or shortly after the conclusion of operations, delegates witnessed DOK-ING’s MV-3 Hystrix system for counterterrorist operations in action in scenarios such as “Glowing Van”, where SWAT/SOF teams were tasked with raiding a car suspected of being a dirty bomb.

Often seen being “taken for a walk” by both representatives of the company and curious delegates, one particular fan-favorite of the whole NCT Europe 2024 event was Ghost Robotics’ quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicle (Q-UGV) for stand-off CBRN detection. The Vision 60 Q-UGV was employed in a number of different scenarios such as “Black Widow”, during which SWAT teams were tasked with neutralizing a suicide bomber. After a successful SWAT operation, operatives then employed the Vision 60 Q-UGV to assess any potential CBRN threat.

Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 Q-UGV was a particular fan-favorite at NCT Europe 2024, © NCT Consultants

NCT Europe 2025 to Take Place in Shrivenham, United Kingdom

After four intense days of product briefings, conference sessions, live CBRNe missions, and exhibition, the NCT Europe 2024 conference and exhibition concluded at 4pm on Thursday 23 May. Following a brief closing plenary chaired by Col. Günter Povoden, conference delegates and training teams gathered for the final NCT PRO Challenge certificates ceremony. Training teams then returned Friday 24 May for a final after action review.

NCT Consultants and the CBRNe Society are proud to announce that NCT Europe 2025 will be taking place at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham, United Kingdom from 20-22 May 2025, in cooperation with the UK Ministry of Defence and Cranfield University.

Please visit this website for further information about all NCT events. Photos from NCT Europe 2024 and PRO Challenge are available for viewing and download here.

NCT Consultants  

The NCT events and trainings are organized by NCT Consultants, a defense and security company with 12 years of international experience, based in Leiden, The Netherlands. The company contributes to warfighters’ and first responders’ missions and capabilities to counter the threats of weapons of mass destruction and mitigate their effects. NCT Consultants connects businesses, governments, and NGOs by providing knowledge and networking, training, and assisting in building global partner capacities and partnerships.  

The flagship activities of NCT Consultants are the NCT annual events in Europe, the USA, South America, the Asia Pacific region, and the Middle East. Built on strong cooperation with government partners, the regional NCT events are the leading CBRNE, C-IED, EOD, and demining event series in the world with around 250-400 participants per edition.  

NCT Consultants is present in three continents with companies based in the Netherlands, USA, and Singapore. 

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