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The NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency announced the winners of its Defence Innovation Challenge on 6 November, with Turkish, Czech and Canadian companies winning through after the top qualifying companies pitched their solutions during the Agency’s virtual industry event, NITEC Connect.

The challenge was aimed at proposals to accelerate transformational ideas, technologies and solutions to improve distributed radar data processing. Companies offered a variety of proposals to improve radar output, which speaks to a fundamental element of the Alliance’s air defence capability – the Air Command and Control System (ACCS), currently being delivered to NATO.

A panel of experts – drawn from the NCI Agency, NATO HQ and across member nations – assessed proposals for feasibility, appropriateness, innovation and projected cost/benefit analysis. Three winners were selected:

Aselsan (Turkey) (see separate story on MON earlier today);
ERA a.s. (Czech Republic);
Reticle Ventures Canada, Inc. (in partnership with Lemay.ai).

Each of the three winners will receive a small contract to take part in a pilot with the Agency, each contract tailored to the company’s proposal.

"At the NCI Agency we know we don't innovate alone. Industry has always been a major partner in our efforts. I am excited to see what other industry innovators can bring to this area, particularly in applying machine learning techniques to the wealth of data we have from these systems," observed Maj Gen Göksel Sevindik, NCI Agency Chief of Staff.

Next, the Agency will work with the winners to take their innovation to the next level, testing them in NATO scenarios. The companies will work closely with NCI Agency experts, refining their proposal sand looking into the challenges of putting their innovative ideas into practice within NATO.

"In the Innovation Challenge, we challenge industry and we challenge ourselves. It is a forum that allows us to continue and deepen a conversation with industry and to explore what new technology can mean to NATO," declared Ives Tuyaerts, Engineering Branch Chief, Air Command and Control Programme Office and Services, NCI Agency.

ACCS is one of the principal likely recipients of the benefits winning proposals might bring to NATO after pilot programmes mature the relevant solutions. (Photo: NCI Agency)

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