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02 13 2019

Defence Innovation Challenge offers international visibility

All about our Defence Innovation Challenge, from our 2018 winners. The NATO Communications and Information Agency caught up with a few organizations that won our 2018 Defence Innovation Challenge.

The winners said the event, which is part of our annual industry conference NITEC, helped them meet new people, gain credibility and gauge interest in specific technical areas.

For example, competing was part of Rasdaman GmbH's strategy to enter the security and defence market, said Dr Peter Baumann, its Founder and CEO.

"Getting the honour of being acknowledged as NITEC Innovation Challenge winner turned out to be a visibility booster with customers as well as potential partners," Baumann said.

Rasdaman, which is focused on big data analytics, has "very promising leads" in both the U.S., and in Europe, Baumann said in November.

Baumann suggests that 2019 challenge participants come with a clear statement on the innovation, and its value proposition for the existing or anticipated customers.

The Defence Innovation Challenge is specifically designed for small businesses and academia. Those who finish in the top 10 present their proposals at NITEC. The 2018 conference was held in Berlin from 22-24 May.

"The NITEC innovation challenge is a great way for a wide range of companies and organizations to share their innovative products and services with the NCI Agency," said Michael Street, Innovation Manager at the Agency. "It is one of the routes we use to ensure that NATO's technology experts stay aware of how innovative technologies are being applied."

The Agency launched a call for papers to kick off the competition. A selection board evaluated the papers and chose 10 winners, who presented their solutions at NITEC.

The challenge was open to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and academic institutions with cutting edge technology from all 29 NATO Nations.

During the challenge, winner CybExer Technologies focused on data visualization for cyber exercises, said Merle Maigre, Executive Vice President for Government Relations.

Defence Innovation Challenge offers international visibility

Maigre encouraged more Northern and Eastern Europe companies to participate in the challenge.

"It was boosting to get recognition for our revolutionary data visualization tool only two years after the company's inception," Maigre said in December. "It shows how an Estonian company can develop new technologies that strengthen the Alliance's cyber capabilities."

Feedback from conference attendees helped a different challenge winner, Troika Solutions, confirm there was an interest in battlespace data fusion and visibility.

The company received other opportunities based on the work it presented at the challenge, though those prospects were not specifically tied to people the company spoke with at NITEC, said Pam Rooney, who is in International Operations at the company.

The company has also been working on a project to expand a demonstration of in-field drone repair using additive manufacturing (3D printing) and drawings authenticated by blockchain technology, Rooney said in November.

Troika Solutions demonstrated the in-field drone repair work at a NATO exercise called CWIX, the Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXercise, Rooney said.

Rooney's advice for the 2019 challenge participants was to "prepare yourself to hear relevant speakers and understand NATO priorities and processes!"

SensorUp Founder and CTO Steve Liang also had advice for future participants: to build something disruptive and massive.

Participating in the challenge added credibility to the company, Liang said.

At NITEC the company's presentation focused on enabling a standards-based Common Operational Picture for the internet of military things. Several commands will share an identical display of important information like troop positions, called a Common Operational Picture, to plan collaboratively.

Asked what the company has been up to since the challenge, Liang said SensorUp has expanded from 10 full time employees to 15, and expects revenue to triple in 2019.

The next NITEC, "NATO and the High North: Technology Ultramarathon," will be held in Oslo, Norway on 20-22 May 2019.

You can enter this year's Defence Innovation Challenge at bit.ly/2019DIC.