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Apr 20 2020

Update: NCI Agency Defence Innovation Challenge 2020


--- PROPOSAL SUBMISSION IS CLOSED ---

Despite the unfortunate postponement of NITEC20, the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency still accepted submissions for its fifth Defence Innovation Challenge. 


And we're doing things differently this year.

Selected submissions will be evaluated in late summer in a virtual pitch session. And for the first time, the most promising of those pitches may subsequently be invited to bid for a contract in this area. As 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 30 NATO Nations are particularly encouraged to apply.

"We are excited to pilot this new way of bringing tangible solutions to NATO problems," said Dr Michael Street, Head of Innovation and Data Science at the NCI Agency. "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."

Update: NCI Agency Defence Innovation Challenge 2020

The Topic

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.

The Process

Phase 1:

Selected submissions will get an opportunity to showcase their tech solutions in a virtual pitch session planned for late summer 2020.

During the virtual pitch session, an NCI Agency-led Selection Board will judge the submissions. The Board 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.

Exact details, including the virtual pitch session dates and other logistics, are forthcoming. The Selection Board will choose up to ten top finishers to participate in Phase 2.

Phase 2:

Phase 2 participants will receive:

  • One registration waiver for admission to NITEC in spring 2021;

  • Participation in an award ceremony with NCI Agency leadership;

  • A mentoring session with NCI Agency leaders in their respective technological field;

  • The possibility to demonstrate their solution on-site with NATO;

  • Recognition on the NCI Agency communication channels; and

  • Potential to put their system into operational use through a competitive bid with the NCI Agency

Like all other NITEC21 participants, 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.

The Guidelines

The Defence Innovation Challenge is open to companies, regardless of size, from across the NATO Alliance. Startups as well as small and medium-sized enterprises are especially encouraged to participate. Entries had to be received by 15 June 2020. The top finishers will be announced in July-August 2020.

A concise proposal should demonstrate the unique aspects of your technology, its innovative core and the proposed work as it relates to the focus area while highlighting its relevance to NATO.

Ready to join the Challenge? Submit your proposal.

Please carefully read the Terms of Reference here. Proposals had to be submitted no later than 15 June 2020 at 23:59 CET.

Do not hesitate to contact us at industryrelations@ncia.nato.int for any further enquiries.