A New Approach to Defence Innovation

From: National Defence

The nature of military operations is evolving. Emerging technologies and processes, and the presence of new players on the global stage requires a shift in the way we operate, whether in response to conflicts, natural disasters, or other threats. Significant developments are arising from academic and commercial sectors which can subsequently be exploited for defence applications.  Canada must be able to adapt and innovate more rapidly to maintain defence capabilities that address these challenges.

In this context Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, commits improving access to innovative technology, knowledge and problem solving through an investment of $1.6 billion over the next 20 years. The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, will boost Canada’s current defence research and development (R&D) program and enhance our ability to eliminate or mitigate emerging threats, stay ahead of potential adversaries, and meet evolving defence and security needs, while generating economic benefits for Canada. IDEaS will provide the tools and resources necessary to engage defence and security partners to a greater degree, enabling us to integrate ideas from the broader innovation community.

The IDEaS program will:

  • expand research and development (R&D) networks to new defence and security partners;
  • establish partnerships around defence and security challenges;
  • support innovation from problem definition toward early adoption;
  • source solutions from the broader innovation ecosystem.

We will achieve this by implementing:


We will create networks of innovators to strengthen our external engagement with academia, industry and other partners in science and technology (S&T) capable of addressing evolving threats including but not limited to including surveillance, cyber, space, remotely piloted systems, counter improvised explosive devices as well as soldier physical and mental health. These networks of innovators will help build Canadian capacity and respond to the demands associated with a changing defence and security environment.

Competing ideas

We will hold competitions that invite innovators to present viable solutions to defence and security challenges to accelerate the maturation of ideas toward adoption. This will provide opportunities for innovators to demonstrate technologies and solutions that have potential for application in defence and security domains, and will enable us to accelerate the adoption of new solutions into operational use.

Agile mechanisms

We will implement agile mechanisms that enable the Canadian Armed Forces and public safety operators to develop and test ideas and follow through with the most promising ones.

We will also align with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC) and the Government of Canada’s Inclusive Innovation Agenda to leverage existing innovation efforts.

IDEaS Program Next Steps

IDEaS will enhance the operational effectiveness of the defence and security community by increasing the number of innovative ideas and concepts and accelerating their adoption. It will do so by:

  • utilizing an easily accessible web portal to broadcast defence and security challenges across the innovation system to recruit appropriate S&T expertise across academia, industry, government and other partners;
  • facilitating partnership opportunities between innovators, industry and other defence and security stakeholders;
  • providing ongoing calls for innovation to highlight emerging requirements and opportunities for innovators to engage in defence and security challenges;
  • supporting projects to allow for sequential development of promising ideas;
  • providing opportunities to support Canadian innovators to obtain expert (scientific and operational) feedback and awareness of promising technologies; and
  • acquiring limited pre-production quantities of innovations to be evaluated in realistic settings.

The IDEaS Program is expected to be launched in fall 2017. More details about the program will be forthcoming. Please keep checking our website for regular updates.

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