Understanding IDEaS

IDEaS was announced in Canada’s new defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, and commits to $1.6 billion of investment in innovations for defence and security over the next 20 years.

The program is looking for your solutions to support the development of defence and security capabilities.

IDEaS fosters open innovation to provide creative thinkers with the structure and support to encourage solutions, which will assist in solving some of Canada’s toughest defence and security challenges.

IDEaS will support the development of solutions from their conceptual stage, through prototype testing and capability development. The program includes several elements that promote collaboration between innovators, provides developmental resources and provides opportunities to interact with DND’s science and military members. Through which all innovators are on an even playing field to solve specific defence and security challenges.

Check out our program overview presentation to learn more about IDEaS [PDF - 1.38MB].

Read our 2019-2020 Annual Report !


See how some of #DefenceIDEaS have come to life! The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program has invested significantly in Canadian science and technology over the last year, and organizations have been transforming their innovative thinking into tangible solutions for CAF and DND. Find out about our collective efforts and achievements in the 2019-2020 annual report.

IDEaS Elements

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.

Innovation Networks

The IDEaS Program supports the establishment of new Innovation Networks and, where appropriate, existing networks, to stimulate collaboration and the free flow of ideas critical to innovation. Academics, industry and other partners are encouraged to come together to form collaborative Innovation Networks.  Areas for support of advanced research and development (R&D) will vary over time depending on Canada’s current and future defence and security Innovation Challenges.


Sandboxes are an opportunity for innovators to test and demonstrate their solutions to published challenges. The scenario and environment are provided by the Department of National Defence (DND)/the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and participants will receive observational feedback from DND/CAF experts and potential users.


Contests are a competitive means of finding innovative solutions and awarding prizes to the best solutions. Each contest focuses on one of the defence and security challenges identified by the program. Each contest is held independently; the number of winners, as well as the type and/or value of the prizes, will vary. IDEaS will hold approximately four contests per year.

Test Drive

Test Drive is an opportunity for innovators to offer their solutions to DND/CAF in response to published Test Drive Challenges. If selected, innovators can observe while DND/CAF test and evaluate their solutions in a realistic test environment as part of a DND/CAF-designed test plan. DND/CAF will acquire use of the solutions for the test/evaluation via a purchase, lease, rent, loan or other arrangement with the innovator.

IDEaS Enablers


Ideation sessions allow multidisciplinary engagement with one or more of the many defence and security challenges identified by the program. Participants – including professionals from academia, the private sector, government and non-government organisations – may be invited to work with subject-matter experts from the DND, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), and the CAF to identify, refine and analyse complex defence challenges. Further, ideation sessions may be used to help identify potential pathways for integration of solutions.


Integrators are DND/CAF subject-matter experts who are assigned to monitor an IDEaS project’s progress, act as a liaison between the innovator and DND, and assess the viability of an IDEaS project as a solution to one of the IDEaS program’s defence and security challenges. Integrators leverage their scientific, defence, and security knowledge and expertise to provide key insights and identify linkages to DND, with the goal of advancing IDEaS projects toward “adoption ready” solutions.


This component is designed to promote innovation through the collaborative exchange of knowledge and ideas. IDEaS offers one-way exchange opportunities to applicants from government, partner organisations, industry and academia. Opportunities also exist for internal applicants whose areas of expertise may intersect with the defence challenges identified by the IDEaS program. Exchange opportunities are announced regularly and may be approved for a period of up to six months.

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