NCI Agency Director of Acquisition Peter Scaruppe has highlighted the need to focus on processes as well as technologies when developing the Agency's innovation agenda.
He made the comments during his keynote speech at the Western Innovation Forum, which took place on 8 November 2016, in Vancouver, Canada.
"The cutting-edge technology we need to stay ahead of our adversaries is out there," Scaruppe told the audience of Canadian Industry executives and defence experts. "We, the NCI Agency, need to be innovative about how we access the innovation that companies like yours—and those of other Allies—are doing every day."
Mr Scaruppe outlined two factors that have resulted in a continuous need for innovation in order to maintain the resilience of NCI Agency's communications and information systems: fast-evolving security challenges, including cyber threats, and rapid technology design in the private sector, where more commercial technologies than ever before have military applications.
Recognizing this new reality, NATO leaders at the Warsaw Summit earlier this year agreed that for the Alliance to keep its technological edge, NATO must identify advanced and emerging technologies, evaluate their applicability in the military domain, and implement them through innovative solutions.
Accordingly, NCI Agency's robust innovation agenda is aimed at accessing more innovation from more sources, more rapidly.
Mr Scaruppe described several new initiatives that the NCI Agency piloted this year. These initiatives include an acquisition reform study that will produce recommendations for improving NATO's cyber procurement processes, and a mentoring program for small and medium enterprises to receive advice from larger companies on partnering with NATO and other topics. A Defence Innovation Challenge aimed at tapping the technology solutions of SMEs and Academia across the Alliance was also introduced in 2016.
Next April, the Agency will launch the Next Generation Innovators Programme, aimed at preparing the next generation information security experts. Mr Scaruppe also highlighted the NATO Industry Cyber Partnership (NICP) as a valuable mechanism for boosting NATO-Industry cooperation on information sharing, the exchange of best practices, and the exploration of innovative technologies to enhance cyber defence.
"If we are going to move faster than the threats we face, then we need to embrace new ways of working together with companies large and small," Mr Scaruppe said.
He also outlined the significant resources that the Agency is putting behind innovation, with 3 billion EUR worth of business opportunities planned between now and 2019 in cyber, air and missile defence as well as advanced software. This includes a 70 million EUR investment in cyber technology focused on secure mobility, multi-level authentication, and the secure use of public clouds.
Mr Scaruppe noted that these contracts align with one of the core tasks of the Alliance: to connect and link National forces and capabilities into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Harnessing the innovative capacity of Alliance Industry to help achieve this aim will be the focus of the NCI Agency's annual flagship conference, NITEC17, taking place on 24-26 April in Ottawa, Canada. The conference, with its theme of 'Sharpening NATO's Technological Edge: Adaptive Partnerships and the Innovative Power of Alliance Industry', will be an ideal platform for strategic dialogue with Industry partners to take forward the Agency's innovation agenda.