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We bring in the experts, you bring the technology. Then, it’s play time.


Sandboxes are the opportunity to get your product in front of national defence experts and demonstrate its capabilities. Be in the room to demonstrate your savvy in solutions development and receive observational feedback from DND, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) experts and potential users.

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How it works

How does the overall Sandbox process work? 

Please note that IDEaS does not accept unsolicited proposals for a Sandbox.

Once DND/CAF has decided to conduct a Sandbox for a specific challenge:

  1. A Call For Applications is published 3-5 months in advance of the Sandbox.
  2. An evaluation and selection process determines which innovators are accepted.
  3. After selection, DND and the selected innovators complete their pre-Sandbox preparations, shipping, and travel to attend the Sandbox.
  4. The Sandbox is conducted.
  5. Post-Sandbox reporting and administration with each innovator is completed.

When and where does a Sandbox happen?

Sandboxes are only planned and announced for selected DND/CAF challenges.  We will usually have two to four per year.

Sandboxes are usually conducted at a CAF base or DRDC research centre, but may also be at other facilities.  The timing and location of the actual event is based on test environment considerations (such as range availability, safety requirements, technical infrastructure, season and weather) as well as logistical considerations (such as transportation, accommodations, communications, and security).

How much funding is available?

There is no cost to the innovator for using the sandbox facility, nor is the innovator paid to develop their solution or attend the sandbox; however, IDEaS will partially reimburse costs related to travel, shipping, and other costs incurred related to attending the sandbox.  Each Call For Applications includes details on the available reimbursement for that sandbox.

Who can apply?

  • Applications are open to individuals, academia, not for profit organizations, and industry of any size, as well as provincial, territorial, and municipal organizations.
  • Federal government departments/agencies, and federal Crown Corporations are not eligible to submit applications to this CFA.
  • Foreign companies can apply.  Sandboxes are not exclusively restricted to made in Canada products/solutions; however, the level of Canadian content within each application will be given consideration during the evaluation process as described in section 6 of the Application Form.

How do you select who comes to the sandbox?

The selection process and criteria is described in detail in each sandbox’s Call For Applications, including the types of characteristics, performance levels, and strategic parameters CAF is seeking for that specific sandbox.

Technology Readiness Levels.  As a minimum, at the time of application solutions must have already successfully completed the work and validation testing associated with refining the integration of the solution’s components (Technology Readiness Level 5 or higher).  This ensures that solutions are ready for the near-end state demonstrations and testing in a simulated environment that DND/CAF expects in a Sandbox

Learn more about Technology Readiness Level (TRLs).

How do I apply?

When a specific Sandbox Call For Applications is published you can access all of the required information from that specific Sandbox’s web page in order to submit your application.

You can find the past and present Sandboxes on the IDEaS Opportunities Page or the Sandbox Opportunities Tab. You can also subscribe to join our mailing list to receive emails as new Calls are published, and ongoing updates.

What is a Sandbox?

A Sandbox is an opportunity for innovators to test and demonstrate their prototype solutions to National Defence military users and science experts for a specific IDEaS advertised challenge.

The Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) DND/CAF provide a well-equipped and fully staffed test environment specifically designed for that challenge with such things as test articles, weapon ranges, targets, imagery, data collection, and operational scenarios, as well as work and storage space, security, etc. 

We also provide on-site military and science experts, as well as other government safety and security potential users, to give innovators observational feedback on their solutions.

There are no fees to the innovator for using the Sandbox.

What happens during the Sandbox itself?

  • Each innovator will typically get 2-5 days at the Sandbox with 8-12 innovators hosted in total over 3-5 weeks, although this may vary with each Sandbox.
  • Innovators operate their prototypes for their desired test and demonstration plan, receiving on-site immediate feedback from DND/CAF technical and end-user subject matter experts.
  • Innovators are paired with our military users and science experts for continuous full-time interaction during the testing.
  • Innovator demonstrations are isolated from each other to protect intellectual property and prototype performance.
  • It is not a contest with multiple innovators publicly competing with each other and an isolated panel of judges.  Instead, we are seeking proactive continuous one-on-one engagement with each innovator to mutually help each other.

Collectively this provides an opportunity for:

  • Innovators to refine and develop their prototype during and after the Sandbox.  This can include iterative testing and on-site improvement during the Sandbox, while concurrently showcasing it to DND/CAF to gain their feedback.
  • DND/CAF personnel to learn about the state of possible future upcoming solutions to the challenge, potentially influencing future DND/CAF acquisition decisions.
  • Selected allied military and security partners to DND/CAF may also be present, expanding the exposure an innovator may receive during and after the Sandbox.
  • Interaction and discussion with others in the field of work.

What happens after a Sandbox?

After the Sandbox is concluded a written report will be provided to each Participant documenting the observations from DND/CAF on the Participant’s solution.

DND/CAF will internally consider the observations they made at the Sandbox in order to monitor any progression towards solving the specific challenge and how that may or may not influence further force development planning, procurement, priorities, and other considerations internal to IDEaS and across DND/CAF.

Attendance at a Sandbox, or even successful demonstrations within the Sandbox, does not imply any intent or commitment that DND/CAF will undertake any further activity with any solution or organization. It is a one-time Sandbox event only. It is completely up to the Participant what they do with the information learned during the Sandbox.