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02 24 2020

NATO Agency launches new Defence Innovation Challenge

The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency is now accepting submissions for its fifth annual Defence Innovation Challenge.

And this year, we are doing things differently. For the first time, following NITEC, the most promising proposals may subsequently be invited to bid for a contract in this area. As a part of the bidding process, invited winners will be offered the opportunity to demonstrate their solutions in a NATO environment, to a relevant NATO audience.

Through the challenge, the NCI Agency aims to incentivize innovations that could be scaled to the NATO environment. Startups and small and medium-sized enterprises from all 29 NATO Nations are particularly encouraged to apply.

Dr Michael Street, Head of Innovation and Data Science at the NCI Agency, said: "We are excited to pilot this new way of bringing tangible solutions to NATO problems. The Defence Innovation Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to show the users directly how your innovative technological solution could improve this aspect of radar performance."

For the Challenge, the NCI Agency is accepting submissions which focus on improving the performance of aerial radar. Solutions will address one or more of the following:

  • Correlate Aerial Discovery Radar outputs, combining real-time outputs from two or more radar sources to produce a single, combined result aircraft position.
  • Automatically convert aircraft plots (location) to tracks (vector).
  • Provide confidence levels of their outputs.
  • Operate in bad weather conditions or spoofing.
  • Be capable of modification to operate on civilian or non-civilian radar data.

Solutions may use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to approach these challenges, but solutions are not limited only to these technologies.

NATO Agency launches new Defence Innovation Challenge

An NCI Agency-led panel of experts will judge the submissions. The panel will include experts from across NATO and AFWERX, a United States Air Force organization focused on innovation. Submissions will be assessed against criteria encompassing innovation, implementation feasibility and cost-effectiveness.

Top finishers will get an opportunity to showcase their tech solutions at the NCI Agency annual industry conference NITEC20: NATO Edge. This year's conference is on 26-28 May 2020 in Austin, Texas, USA.

An NCI Agency-led panel of experts will choose up to ten top finishers that will receive:

  • One registration waiver for admission to NITEC20;
  • Short demonstration during the plenary sessions of NITEC20;
  • Participation in the award ceremony with NATO leadership; and
  • 1,000 EUR per winning proposal as a contribution to cover travel expenses to attend NITEC20.

Like all other participants of the conference, the top finishers will also have an opportunity to join B2B meetings, small businesses mentoring sessions (if applicable) and bilateral meetings with NCI Agency business managers and technical experts.

Click here to submit your proposal for the Innovation Challenge.

Entries must be received by 3 April 2020. The top finishers will be announced on 24 April 2020.