Partnerships and opportunities: academia

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Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) collaborative activities with academic institutions to date encompass the following:

  • Contributions in-kind towards a common objective (collaborative agreements)

  • Cost shared initiatives in pursuing a common science and technology objective

  • Exchanges of personnel at the cost of the parent employer

  • External academic activities by DRDC’s scientists such as: adjunct professorships, research associates, honorary research associates and teachers

  • Student employment via the Federal Students Work Experience Program

  • College and university co-op programs

  • Research Affiliate Program

As part of the Defence and Security Science and Technology Strategy, DRDC is undertaking to increase engagement activities in areas where expertise lies within the national innovation system. In order to access external science and technology capabilities, new partnerships and delivery models are being developed. In this context, academic institutions are important partners for DRDC.

DRDC and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) have a strategic partnership. Being under one department – the Department of National Defence, the two entities form a natural bond addressing the challenges of the Canadian Armed Forces jointly with the involvement of students and other universities. DRDC leverages RMCC’s vast network on topic-specific issues on a case by case basis.

NATO welcomes collaboration from industry, academia and government. Please browse the following sites:

Please contact Debbie Kemp, if you have any questions.

Institute for Research in Defence and Security

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) is creating the Institute for Research in Defence and Security. The Institute’s goal is to engage the academic community in finding solutions to challenges Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members faces when using technology.

Canadian Safety and Security Program

The Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) is led by Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, which operates in partnership with Public Safety Canada, to provide science and technology services and solutions to address public safety and security priorities. Annual Calls for Proposals are managed through Public Services and Procurement Canada; information about open calls is made available on the website. Visit the CSSP-funded projects page for an overview of projects funded through the CSSP Call for Proposals since the program was launched in 2012.

DRDC’s science and technology domains of interest for greater external partner engagement:

  • Physical sciences: physical protection, energetic materials and systems, platform performance (through-life maintenance aspects)
  • Electromagnetic sciences - sensor data exploitation and fusion
  • Information sciences: command and control, information systems for command and control
  • Health sciences - human performance
  • Social and behavioural sciences: human systems integration, learning and trainingOperational research and analysis: operational research/operational analysis force development/concepts development and experimentation/concepts development

New Partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to Support Discovery Research

DRDC is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The partnership will provide up to 20 research supplements of $120,000 ($40,000 annually over three years) to support unclassified university-based research dedicated to the development of non-weapon-specific technologies with dual-use applications in defence and security areas.

Applicants to the current NSERC Discovery Grant competition will be considered for the DND/NSERC Discovery Grant Supplement, based in part on their evaluation results and the extent to which the proposed research activity addresses the Defence and Security Target Areas identified by DRDC. As part of the Discovery Grants application process, applicants will be asked to indicate their interest in being considered for the new supplement and provide written justification of how their proposed research fits within these target areas.

The target areas are:

  • Autonomous Systems and Robotics
  • Information Management and Data Science
  • Human Systems Performance and Protection
  • Resilient Networked Systems
  • Explosive Hazard Avoidance, Blast Characterization and Mitigation
  • Next Generation Material Systems and Signatures

These funds may be used to expand the recipient’s research group (e.g., students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians), to purchase or access specialized equipment, or for other initiatives or resources that would accelerate the recipient’s research program.

For more information, go to the NSERC website or send an email to

DND/NSERC Research Partnership Program

DND and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) have established a jointly managed and funded DND/NSERC Research Partnership Grant that aims to:

  • capitalize on the complementary research and development capacity existing in the universities and in DND in order to generate new knowledge and support the development of new technical capabilities relevant to the development and application of dual-use technologies in selected areas of interest to both DND and NSERC
  • build strong two- and three-way linkages and create synergy between researchers in DND and universities and the private sector
  • achieve the efficient and effective transfer of research results and technology to identified receptors in the public and the private sector
  • train and develop highly qualified personnel in priority areas consistent with the future human resource requirements in the public and private sectors

Details can be found at the NSERC site.

Joint Initiative with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), an agency of the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) have signed a joint initiative agreement to support social sciences and humanities research and related activities pertaining to military personnel readiness, organizational and operational effectiveness, and human effectiveness in modern operations.

DRDC conducts social science research to support the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and DND in developing effective, efficient and affordable evidence-based strategies, policies, programs, procedures, processes and technologies, that, together:

  • Optimize the intake, training and management of the Defence Team, ensuring a workforce at the right numbers, at the right ranks/occupations, and with the appropriate skills and experience to meet future operational needs. This includes research in support of strategic and operational priorities in domains such as attraction and recruitment, selection and assessment, motivation, career management, training and education and workforce analytics;
  • Enhance individual and family well-being, care for the ill and injured, and prepare members for the transition to civilian life. This includes research with a focus on health, resiliency, morale, welfare and compensation;
  • Enable the effective employment of the Defence Team in operational and organizational environments, and strengthening of the operational and strategic leadership capacity of the CAF. This includes research addressing the physical, psychological, social and cultural demands of military operations, as well as the efficient governance, agility and adaptiveness of the organization; and
  • Enhance the command and intelligence effectiveness of the CAF, and the ability to achieve their missions in complex campaign environments. This includes research with a focus on understanding the social and cultural factors that provide context for effective operations in the non-kinetic sphere; understanding and predicting the intention, behaviour and influence of relevant individuals and collectives; and effective collaborations in contemporary multifunctional mission environments.

Defence and Security Target Research Area Descriptions

Defence and security challenges for consideration for co-funding with SSHRC

Through the DND–SSHRC MOU (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Memorandum of Understanding), DRDC once again has the opportunity to co-fund defence and security related research in academia as part of the Insight Grants program. The following topics were developed through internal consultation, with certain subjects proposed by SSHRC. 

This represents a significant multi-year investment for ADM(S&T), so the topics were selected and prioritized for relevance, in particular for alignment with the new Strong Secure Engaged defence policy for the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) and the Safety and Security strategic agenda.

The topics have been grouped under four themes:

  1. Personnel - Recruitment and Selection
  2. Readiness - Training and Development
  3. Social Processes in the Workplace
  4. Operational Effectiveness

Theme 1:  Personnel - Recruitment and Selection

Selection tests. Projects under this research challenge should focus on the development of selection tools (e.g., to assess cognitive ability, integrity, personality—both positive and negative aspects—resilience/hardiness, situational judgement, etc.) using the latest research and technology and should be assessed by their potential impact in achieving the CAF’s goal of selecting the right person for the right position at the right time. The scope of this challenge includes integrity testing for selection/hiring purposes; personality testing for selection/hiring purposes; advancements in cognitive ability testing for selection/hiring purposes; and online selection testing. The tools should address challenges inherent in testing, including (a) computerized/online testing; (b) cultural and language issues in test development, recognizing that any tool developed must be available in both official languages; and (c) test accommodations for reasons related to religion, learning disability, and physical and mental health.

Theme 2: Readiness - Training and Development

Emerging learning and training modalities. The CAF (and allied nations) are responsible for maintaining readiness capabilities in several domains, including, for example, response to CBRNE (chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear-explosive) threats and casualty management. The ability to operate effectively in environments with evolving threats is dependent on proper learning and training, including under live or simulated agent conditions. Notably, the lack of metrics, techniques, and analytical tools is a knowledge gap in evaluating the effectiveness of existing learning and training approaches in such environments. Projects that would address this gap would greatly help the CAF, allied forces, and first responders evaluate learning and training mechanisms, evolve them as necessary, and maximize their effectiveness and readiness for current and emerging threats.

Theme 3: Social Processes in the Workplace 

Diversity, gender and armed forces. Canada’s most recent defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, calls for the application of gender-based analysis (ie. GBA+), identifies numerous initiatives related to diversity and inclusion, and prioritizes human resource outcomes such as recruitment, training, retention, health and resilience, and a culture of leadership, respect, and honour. Ongoing work in this domain also recognizes that a lack of diversity and gender inclusion among current military populations might be a barrier to operational capability as well as potentially overlooking talented applicants. Moreover, changing demographics in Canada and among its allies require a better understanding of how to attract, recruit, and retain the next generation of military personnel from diverse communities in order to maintain operational readiness and effectiveness. While research has examined many of the challenges to achieving greater diversity and gender integration in the military, additional research is required to better understand how to develop and sustain a military organization that is effectively inclusive.

Developing trust in diverse organizational teams and in cross-cultural settings. Projects under this research topic should focus on concepts and frameworks for understanding trust and techniques to enhancing the development of trust in diverse organizational teams and in cross-cultural settings. Work can include research to improve engagement, shared understanding, motivation and collaboration, planning, decision making, and execution of activities in multi-organizational and multicultural teams. Research could involve the development of frameworks, models, and theories to better understand the psychological and group dynamics in either diverse organizational or diverse cultural teams, as well as the development and validation of techniques, approaches, and technologies to facilitate initial trust building, the detection of decreases in trust and strategies for the repair of broken trust, and how to mitigate the destructive effects of distrust in these settings.

Transition to civilian life: The role of identity in the transition process. Transition from military to civilian life (MCT; military–civilian transition) is challenging for all military personnel. Although most do well, the changes are quite difficult for some. Early research on transition points to the importance of "identity" in transitioning successfully to civilian life. Previous research has focused on understanding what happens to serving members' sense of identity and how they relate to society after they leave the military. It has been proposed that a "good MCT" is one where veterans and their families achieve strong global wellbeing. Current research on identities suggests that well-managed identity shifts are central and necessary in MCT adjustment; indeed, identity and a new sense of purpose are the key determinants of wellbeing in post-service MCT. We need innovative ways to inform releasing members about their upcoming identity disruptions and to equip them with the life skills and knowledge that will help them to develop healthy post-service identities.

Theme 4: Operational Effectiveness

Individual, social and cultural dimensions of radicalization. Radicalization is a process through which individuals or groups transition from moderate and societally accepted social, political, or religious views to extreme ones that, in can some circumstances, lead to violence. Projects under this research challenge should focus on studies and frameworks to understand how culture, society, group membership, identity, gender, mental health, and an individual’s sense of belonging contribute to the process of radicalization, together with possible mitigation strategies.

Ethical dimension of using artificial intelligence in defence and security. Artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and applications have rapidly advanced as a result of significant increases in computer-processing power, access to data, and improvements in algorithms. While AI can provide solutions to a wide range of military capability gaps and challenges, the use of AI also involves complex ethical and social issues that may impede its development, evaluation, and use by the CAF and DND. Internal research highlighted the need for, and consequently led to the development of, an Ethics Assessment Framework for Emerging AI and Robotics Technologies in future military systems. Application of the framework to emerging AI and robotics technologies has identified several pervasive issues, including privacy, bias, safety/security, accountability/responsibility, reliability, and trust. Future research should examine the ethical implications of specific technologies in a military and a public-safety context, should consider the technical, institutional, legal, and regulatory elements of an AI code of ethics, and—importantly—could address immediate and emergent challenges posed by adversarial use of AI and robotic technologies by non-state actors and competitive nation states.  

Human dimensions of cyber security. The security of computers and computer networks is under constant threat from malicious actors who seek access and control of the information stored in them. To a great extent, the protection of systems and networks from malicious actors is a technical challenge that can be met by deploying effective tools to detect and deny attempts to gain access. Other threats to network security are caused by (a) users’ susceptibility to influence by malicious actors or (b) users’ willingness to disregard policy and engage in behaviours that put cyber systems at risk. Projects under this research challenge should focus on experiments and frameworks to understand the psychological and human factors that underpin non-malicious behaviours that compromise network security or users’ susceptibility social engineering by malicious agents. (Topic also proposed by SSHRC.)

Shaping attitudes, opinions, and behaviour. People can be persuaded or influenced to change their attitudes, opinions, or engage in behaviours at odds with their values and beliefs. Projects under this research topic should focus on understanding the ways and means by which individuals, groups, communities or whole populations can have beliefs, opinions, or behaviour shaped by individual, group, media, industry, or state actors through persuasion or deception (e.g., misrepresentation and information manipulation) techniques. Projects will take qualitative, quantitative, or both approaches to understand how factors such as individual vulnerabilities, group processes, gender, and social identity contribute to shaping attitudes, opinions, and behaviour in the physical and online environments.

Social and cultural demands of military operations. Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, highlights a future characterized by an unpredictable and complex security environment. Within this context, mission success will require the ability to build relationships with a diverse range of individuals, organizations, and allies within demanding security contexts, both at home and abroad. Building these relationships requires a high cultural competence across an agile, well-educated, flexible, diverse, and combat-ready military organization; a healthy and resilient military community of members and families; and the ability to address the unique challenges faced by women, men, and children in conflict zones. Recognizing that social and cultural demands are essential to operational effectiveness, research is required to develop knowledge and contribute to military capacity to enhance institutional processes in meeting these challenges, including the capacity to integrate gender-based analyses into institutional and operational processes. (Topic also proposed by SSHRC.)

Gender perspectives on operations, defence, and security. Projects under this research topic should focus on the integration of gender perspectives or gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) into operations, defence, and security. The work would take national or international perspectives in order to better understand the potential impacts of operations and other interventions on diverse groups of people, taking into account gender and a broad range of identity factors, such as culture, language, race, religion, age, income, education, or geography. Projects under this challenge may also address the women, peace, and security agenda laid out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions, which seeks to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and the key role they can play in conflict management, confliction resolution, and sustainable peace. Research could investigate the challenges and opportunities afforded by the inclusion of gender perspectives, and the conditions under which the integration of gender perspectives/GBA+ may contribute to the improvement of operational effectiveness and to meet the diverse needs of those affected by conflict, crisis, or natural disaster. 

Civil–military relations: Projects under this research challenge should focus on the ability to develop and maintain effective, collaborative relationships between the military and civilian populations, including government departments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, the local population, or others. This research should expand on current theories of civil–military relations at strategic, operational, and tactical levels in the variety of settings and contexts where civilian–military relations occur. Topics could include bridging gaps in civil–military organizational cultures; the relationship between civilian authority and military authority; collaboration in civil–military operations; civil–military pre-deployment planning and training; policy influencing civil–military relations; stabilization policies and processes; the relationship between civil–military relations and hybrid warfare; humanitarian and military relations, particularly with respect to humanitarian mandates and law. This research could involve the development or expansion of theories and models on civilian–military relations; the analysis of current civilian–military processes, policies, doctrines, and mandates; the analysis of training and learning techniques and technologies intended to facilitate civil–military relations, as well as the development of new training and learning techniques and technologies. (Topic also proposed by SSHRC.)

All Domain Situational Awareness S&T Program

Through an investment of up to $133M over five years in All Domain Situational Awareness (ADSA) S&T, DND will conduct research and analysis to support the development of options for enhanced domain awareness of air, maritime surface and sub-surface approaches to Canada, and in particular those in the Arctic. This research and analysis will be delivered through collaboration with other government departments (OGDs), academia, industry and allies. Surveillance solutions explored will support the Government of Canada’s ability to exercise sovereignty in the North,

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