Looking back at NCT Europe 2023


NCT Europe took place between 24-26 May 2023 at the Onderzeebootloods, in the biggest port of Europe, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Over these three days, NCT Europe featured a Conference, an Exhibition and the NCT PRO eXperience and welcomed over 600 participants, including the highest decision makers from the global CBRNe community, as well as civilian and military first responders and industry leaders in the fields of CBRNe, C-IED and EOD.  

NCT Europe kicked off with a live demonstration by the Royal Dutch Armed Forces showcasing their multiagency capabilities in responding to a terrorist threat on a chemical facility in the harbor of Rotterdam. The demonstration was followed by an Opening Plenary, chaired by Colonel (Ret.) Robin Neumeier, Former Commander at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, with a speech by Dr. Wendin Smith Director of NATO’s Arms Control, Disarmament, and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Nonproliferation Centre (ACDC). Dr. Smith opened the event by outlining NATO’s CBRN Defence Policy and its response to emerging and disruptive technologies combined with CBRN threats, followed by a presentation from Mr. Peter Brüning, Senior Sales Manager at Kärcher Futuretech GmbH about the company’s decontamination system for urban CBRN threats.

Live demonstration by the Royal Dutch Armed Forces showcasing their multiagency capabilities.  

On the first day of the conference, discussions focused on European CBRN stockpiling, with the participation of representatives from NATO, the European Commission, the US National Strategic Stockpile and the Belgian National Crisis Center. It also featured a static display of a Russian tank destroyed by a mine in Ukraine, as well as a Ukrainian ambulance shot in the conflict. 16 teams of civilian and military first responders from the Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and NATO took part in the NCT PRO eXperience training featuring CBRNe, C-IED and EOD scenarios. Simultaneously, a large industry exhibition opened its doors, with the participation of 63 exhibiting companies from the CBRNe sector. 

Participants of the Conference included the highest decision makers from the global CBRNe community, as well as civilian and military first responders and industry leaders. 

The second day of the conference opened with a keynote speech by Mr. Maksym Kustov, Head of the Scientific Department on Problems of Civil Protection and Technogenic and Ecological Safety at the National University of Civil Protection of Ukraine. Mr. Kustov talked about the main CBRN threats Ukraine has been facing since the start of the war and the crisis management system in place to respond to these. Discussions in the morning centered around possible responses to industrial Hazmat disasters, with speakers from Austria and Germany outlining local and regional practices implemented when such incidents happen, followed by a Tech Tour, where participants had the opportunity to learn first-hand from industry representatives about their products in the fields of explosive ordnance disposal and detection, medical countermeasures, decontamination systems, chemical analytics and detection, personal protective equipment, training and radiological detection. In the afternoon, discussions continued around medical countermeasures for CBRNe incidents. Ms. Charlotte Renckens, Deputy Head of Unit at the Emergency Office of the European Commission’s Health Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) presented HERA and the way it acts in preparedness and crisis mode, as well as joint procurement and stockpiling within the EU, while Dr. Mariapina Gallo, Medical Toxicologist from the Bergamo Poison Control Center in Italy and Colonel David Bates, Senior Lecturer and Practitioner in Disaster Response at the University of Cumbria in the UK provided insights from a practitioner perspective. Mr. Ryan Kane, Senior Director of Government Affairs​ at Elusys Therapeutics Inc. talked about the global anthrax threat landscape and possible responses to it.  

63 companies from the CBRNe sector participated in the large-scale industry exhibition.

The latest innovations in CBRNe defense were also discussed and Colonel Friedrich Aflenzer, Project Officer in CBRN Defense from the European Defence Agency (EDA) discussed the Agency’s role in defense research, the coordination of European capability priorities and highlighted a number of joint projects between Member States in the fields of CBRN defense capabilities and C-IED. He was followed by Mr. David Restione, Wearables Pilot Program Lead at the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense Program (ODASD CBDP) in the US, who provided an insight into the US Department of Defense pilot program on psychological monitoring with wearables and the broader advanced development priorities of the CBDP. Mr. Dino Isasegi, Sales Manager at DOK-ING spoke about the company’s latest demining technology, while Mr. Christopher Hoffman, Vice President for Government Affairs at Aktiv Pharma Group presented on the need for and challenges with delivering capabilities at scale in a crisis situation.  

The NCT PRO Training eXperience sessions continued the second day led by trainers from the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), MAC 7 Training, the Army of the Czech Republic and NCT Consultants. Over the course of three days, the 16 teams went through four different scenarios, involving chemical detection and sampling (“Drug nest”), radiological detection (“Glowing car”), IED detection (“From Russia with love”) and biohazard detection and sampling (“Chemistry on wheels”). The training sessions took place in two locations, inside the Onderzeebootloods submarine wharf, as well as at outdoors training plants in the harbor of Rotterdam. The teams practiced with equipment supplied by the following companies: Airsense Analytics, Aktiv Pharma Group, Bruker Optik, Foster+Freeman, H3D, Mirion Technologies, Metrohm AG, Polimaster Europe UAB, VisiConsult X-ray Systems & Solutions GmbH and CEIA.  

NCT PRO Training eXperience sessions centered around four life-like scenarios with the participation of 16 teams. 

On the last day, the opening session of the Conference, chaired by BG (Ret.) William King, Former Commander of the 20th CBRNE Command in the US Army, focused on CBRNe interoperability between NATO and its partners with presentations from the Netherlands, Japan and the US EUCOM in Germany. Bruker Optik from Germany also contributed to the panel and shared their thoughts on interoperability for manufacturers in the field of CBRNe.  

The discussion continued with a session on preventing and investigating CBRNe crime, where Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Johnson, Counter CBRN Officer for the Land Warfare Centre of the British Army, talked about forensic investigations in warfighting and shared a video highlighting the importance of cooperation between agencies in CBRNe forensics. Superintendent Lee Kendrick, Commander at the UK Police National CBRN Centre discussed the UK’s response to preventing and investigating CBRN crime, while Mr. Ed van Zalen, CBRN Program Manager at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) discussed forensic investigation approach at CBRNe crimes, the types of traces that can be found at crime scenes, the forensic approach to such crime scenes and the admissibility of the evidence in court. NCT Europe concluded with a Certificates Ceremony where the participating NCT PRO eXperience teams received their certificates from the trainers and the NCT Team. 

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