Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program?

Announced in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (June, 2017), DND introduced the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program to improve DND’s access to the creative potential of Canadian innovators to build defence capability and economic impact. The program supports the formation of an innovation ecosystem from the early stages of an idea, creates awareness of defence and security challenges and mobilizes innovators to develop prototypes and capabilities for defence and security capabilities.

How is IDEaS different from other government innovation programs that are involved in the defence sector such as Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) and Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP)?

The focus of the IDEaS program exclusively seeks to resolve defence and security challenges. IDEaS supports innovation activities across Solution Readiness Levels 1-9 and all innovators from academia to small and large companies are eligible to submit proposal(s). Additionally, IDEaS fosters networks, incentivizes collaboration and development expertise, and provides opportunities for innovators to interact with CAF leadership while demonstrating their solutions to obtain operational feedback.

How much funding is dedicated to IDEaS?

The new defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged announced that DND will invest $1.6 billion over 20 years, including $313 million in the first five years, to build and promote an innovation ecosystem in defence and security. The funding will foster a vibrant innovation system capable of responding to DND innovation challenges. IDEaS offers a variety of elements which ensure innovators have the opportunity to become aware of Defence and Security challenges and provide developmental support to bring their ideas toward shaping defence capability.

What are the IDEaS financial instruments?

The IDEaS Program provides financial support to foster innovation through contracts, contribution agreements and grants. Within the program, IDEaS supports full spectrum innovation support including personnel exchanges, assessments and the opportunity to interact with DND experts that have posed the challenges.

How much funding am I eligible to receive?

Each IDEaS element will have specific funding assigned that will be posted on the IDEaS website with each Call for Proposal.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply?

Everyone is invited to participate in the IDEaS program—from small and large companies, academia, non-profit organizations and individuals.

How does IDEaS contribute to the Canadian economy?

IDEaS challenges are focused on funding innovation across any sector of the economy. IDEaS competitively awards grants and contributions, and contracts to Canadian researchers, industries and academia as well as engages innovators in a number of consultative ways. This directly incentivizes them and boosts innovation. All IDEaS activities are tracked for their economic benefit to the recipients of funding.

What are the IDEaS program elements?

There are five elements and three enablers within the IDEaS program that operate concurrently and collaboratively to grant innovators access to resources.


1 – Innovation Networks

Innovation Networks are groups of multidisciplinary researchers from academia, industry or other partners that can develop and apply their expertise towards defence and security challenges. IDEaS will provide seed funding to create new networks and sustain existing networks to focus attention on addressing defence and security challenges.

2 – Contests

Contests provide an innovative approach to program delivery by engaging a community of eligible participants to find potential solutions to a “simulated” defence and security challenge. Winners will be awarded a monetary prize via a Grant payment.

3 – Competitive Projects

Competitive Projects are project proposals sought to address S&T Challenges through regular calls for proposals. The IDEaS Program will provide financial support through contracts and contribution agreements where phased development allow continual progress as milestones are achieved for quick project implementation as well as quick termination if warranted. Proposals will be reviewed and evaluated according to predetermined criteria.

4 – Sandboxes

Sandboxes are curated trials (physical or virtual) that provide an opportunity for innovators to demonstrate and test their prototypes or ideas in a controlled setting. Experts’ feedback and interaction with other innovators provide context for future refinement with the goal of creating a better solution.

5 – Test Drive

Test Drive is the process by which relevant experts and operational stakeholders will be assigned to evaluate limited quantities of pre-production prototypes to confirm technology maturity, evaluate in a realistic environment, and provide innovators with operational feedback.


1 – Mobility

Mobility is the practice of personnel exchange between organizations. It is one efficient way of sharing information and expertise. IDEaS will allow for opportunities for scientific exchanges, placements, sabbaticals, and assignments. This would be open to members of government, academia, industry or other partner organizations.

2 – Integrators

Integrators are subject matter experts appointed to help their assigned projects navigate through the development process, serving as their point of contact with the IDEaS Program. Their main objective will be to provide key insight and linkages toward the goal of making the technology "adoption ready".

3 – Ideation

Ideation is the creation of a collaborative environment between multidisciplinary participants, including academia, governments, private and public sectors that facilitates the formulation of new and innovative ideas and concepts. These collaborative sessions will enable participants to obtain a deep understanding of defence and security challenges, explore how their research or ideas might resolve future issues, and integrate this content into innovative proposals.

Does IDEaS and its challenges target specific industries, regions or domains?

By its nature, IDEaS is an access to innovation program and does not have a preference for any particular industry, region or and domain. IDEaS is seeking the best ideas from anyone that has a potential solution to an identified DND challenge.

How can I apply to a challenge?

Each IDEaS element has its own criteria and specific web-based application process. Visit our Current Opportunities for more details.

Can I apply to more than one challenge?

Innovators are invited to apply to multiple challenges.

Will I receive feedback on my proposal?

In the initial phase of evaluations, subject matter experts will conduct an evaluation of the proposal. Applicants will be notified if their proposal is considered for funding. See Tips for applicants for more on this process.

Where can I get more information about the Solution Readiness Levels?

More information can be found on the Solution readiness levels section of the IDEaS website.

What are the Intellectual Property (IP) considerations?

All IP rights that arise as a result of this program will remain with the recipient.

DND may require the recipient grant the Crown a non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable, royalty-free and world-wide license to use, reproduce, sublicense, translate, and distribute the resulting IP. The Crown will not exploit the resulting IP commercially and may exercise the above license in order to make the IP available, in whole or in part, to the broader Canadian defence and security communities and the private and academic sectors, for information and evaluation purposes only, and to assess funding options for further development of the resulting IP.

Please refer to the specific relevant Call for Proposal document for more detailed information to ensure compliance and understanding. 

How will DND proceed to acquisition once a matured proposal is accepted and proven?

The IDEaS program will seek innovative solutions and help in their development through to their evaluations at near commercial readiness. Limited quantities of a solution may be procured for the purposes of operational evaluations. Theacquisition of these solutions in larger quantities to equip DND would be addressed by a separate procurement process.

How might industry influence IDEaS priorities?

The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program gathered the most difficult “challenges” from the Defence community from which its priorities are based. Innovators provide their best ideas in response to these challenges which indicate where there is a match between what is possible and the challenge itself. 

What are the Canadian content requirements for IDEaS?

IDEaS will favour innovation that is developed in Canada but is seeking the best solutions wherever they exist. Each Call for Proposal will describe the minimum Canadian Content desired; typically between 50-80%.

Will I have to repay IDEaS if my proposal and project does not return intended results?

No. IDEaS is seeking novel and creative solutions and not all of them are worthy of pursuing. Even efforts that do not deliver the anticipated results provide key insight that informs future decisions.

The Solution Readiness Level (SRL) definitions for the purposes of IDEaS are identified below:
  • SRL 1: Identification—basic principles and/or properties are observed.
  • SRL 2: Definition—practical applications and/or concepts are formulated.
  • SRL 3: Observation and Analysis—analytical and/or laboratory research and/or experiments are undertaken.
  • SRL 4: Proof of Concept—basic integration of applications and/or concepts to demonstrate viability.
  • SRL 5: Validation—refined integration of applications and/or concepts to confirm validity.
  • SRL 6: Simulated Demonstration—near-end state solution is demonstrated and tested in a simulated environment.
  • SRL 7: Real-World Demonstration—near-end state solution is demonstrated and tested in an appropriate real-world environment.
  • SRL 8: Qualified Solution—end state solution is completed and refined through testing.
  • SRL 9: Proven Solution—final solution is implemented and proven successful.
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