First innovation contracts awarded under the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) Program

News release

August 9, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Over the years, the diversity of the Canadian Armed Forces personnel has helped create a strong, resilient and flexible military that is able to apply a broad array of perspectives and talents across the spectrum of operations.

Today, Defence Minister Harjt S. Sajjan announced the first contracts awarded under the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) Program launched on April 9, 2018. Under the competitive projects element of IDEaS, four contracts totaling $690K are being awarded in response to the challenge of how the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) can recruit, retain and increase representation of women.

The four successful organizations are:

  • SkyHive Technologies: “SkyHive Women in the Military”
  • University of Waterloo: “Improving CAF Gender Diversity”
  • University of Ottawa: “A multi-stage approach to addressing sex-disparities in musculoskeletal injuries in military operators”
  • Xtract AI: “Smart recruiting using deep learning”

These first contract awards stem from the highly successful first call for proposals for the IDEaS program, which received over 600 proposals in response to the 16 defence and security challenges. In the coming months, contract awards for the remaining challenges will be announced.

From consultations with leading-edge organizations, to algorithms, machine learning solutions and the assessment of common causes of medical release from the military, the selected organizations will put their expertise forward to help the CAF successfully overcome challenges and barriers in recruiting and retaining women.

Innovators are encouraged to consult the IDEaS website for more information on this and subsequent calls for proposals as the program continues to take shape. 


“The Canadian Armed Forces is focused on attracting recruits from across Canada who represent our country’s diverse population. Today, I am proud to announce this first series of collaboration between the IDEaS program and Canadian innovators on new ways to ensure that all members who wear the uniform thrive in the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan

“Our Government is committed to providing the Canadian Armed Forces with the equipment and services it needs to carry out its important work on behalf of Canadians. We are proud to award these important contracts, which will help make careers in the Canadian Armed Forces more accessible to women.”

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Carla Qualtrough

“The full spectrum of career opportunities in the Canadian Armed Forces is available to women. Our military is an all-volunteer force and it is ultimately up to all potential applicants to decide if the military lifestyle is for them. As Chief Recruiter, I welcome initiatives that will help Canadian women to consider the Canadian Armed Forces as an option to recognize their career and life goals, and ultimately regard us as an employer of choice.”

Lieutenant-General Charles Lamarre, Commander Military Personnel Command

Quick facts

  • Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, makes the recruiting of women a key priority of the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF.

  • For more than 100 years, women have had an active role in Canada’s military and contributed to Canada’s rich military history and heritage. 

  • The Canadian Forces Recruiting Group enrolled 860 women by the end of Fiscal Year 2017-2018, representing 17% of the total recruiting objective of enrolling 5,000 new members that year.

  • The IDEaS competitive projects’ call for proposal was administered by Public Services and Procurement Canada on behalf of the DND.

  • The second call for proposals under competitive projects will be launched in fall 2018.

  • Through IDEaS, the DND will:

    • Create networks of innovators (academia, industry, individuals, and other partners) to conduct leading-edge research and development in areas critical to future defence and security needs;
    • Hold competitions and invite innovators to present viable solutions to specific defence and security challenges; and
    • Implement new procurement mechanisms that allow DND to develop and test concepts, and to follow through on the most promising ideas.
  • IDEaS will help innovators by supporting analysis, funding research, and developing processes that facilitate access to knowledge. It will also support testing, integration, adoption, and acquisition of creative solutions for Canada’s defence and security communities.

Associated links


Byrne Furlong
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353

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