Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program celebrates five years of transforming defence and security challenges into innovative solutions

June 13, 2023 – Defence Stories

IDEaS 5th anniversary

The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program is celebrating its 5th anniversary.
A graphic of the number 5 over a head in profile, with gears emerging from the top of the head. Text on image: IDEaS 5th anniversary. 2018- 2023. IDEeS 5e anniversaire.
Photo credit: Steven Berry, Department of National Defence.

In April 2023, the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program marked five years of advancing its goals of building a defence innovation community, finding solutions, and pushing technology forward.

‘’Over the past five years, our program has been transforming defence and security challenges into innovative solutions to improve Canada’s defence capabilities, with the help of innovators of all shapes and sizes,’’ says Philippe Hébert, Director General of Innovation at Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC). ‘’I am proud to say that so far our investments have yielded great results. We will continue to work to ensure IDEaS remains relevant and optimized to bring innovation in the hands of DND/CAF.”

More than 20 technologies which started at a low technology readiness level have now graduated to a state of readiness where the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) can potentially test them in a real world setting thanks to IDEaS funding.

Announced in the fall of 2017 in Canada’s Defence Policy Strong, Secure, Engaged and officially launched in April 2018, the IDEaS program has funded more than six hundred projects spread over 75 challenges issued by DND/CAF.

Five funding elements are offered by IDEaS to help Canadian innovators address defence and security issues. Th​ese elements help advance solutions at various stages of de​velopment, from early research to prototyping and testing. This includes phased development funding, collaborative research with academic and private sector partners, showcasing demonstrable solutions and prototypes and working toward full commercialization. IDEaS is currently testing four prototype technologies that have advanced through the IDEaS Competitive Projects ecosystem, with many more on tap.

For the DND/CAF, they get an understanding of the technologies available to them which can be customized to their specific needs. For example, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) and Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) have partnered with IDEaS for a three-year project to significantly advance sensor capabilities utilizing cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology.

“Collaborating with leading Canadian innovators contributes greatly to CANSOFCOM’s capabilities and helps to ensure that the CAF is well-positioned for future operating environments,” commented LCdr Shekhar Gothi, Director of SOF Requirements X Innovation, CANSOFCOM.

Along the way, the program itself has evolved as well, building strong relationships with industry and developing a brand that is recognizable across the defence community.

‘’From artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, biotech, quantum technologies, you name it, IDEaS has been working with Canadian innovators, who have shared their expertise and ideas to help advance the nation’s defence capabilities. The program has also had a positive economic impact, with $330 million being added to the defence innovation ecosystem,” says Jaspinder Komal, Assistant Deputy Minister, DRDC.

The impact of the IDEaS program will continue to grow, with another 15 years dedicated to advancing technology and fostering collaboration between the DND/CAF, private sector, and academia.

Be sure to check out the IDEaS fifth year anniversary video on social media!
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