The Department of Defence Unveils $1.6 Billion IDEeS Program

Credit: DND.

The Department of Defence (DND) yesterday announced the $1.6 billion Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEeS) program that includes opportunities in the space domain.

The new initiative is part of the governments ongoing innovation agenda with this program focused on helping the Department of Defence and is being rolled out as part of last years new defence policy “Strong, Secure, Engaged”.

Solution Readiness Levels (SRL) definitions
Solution Readiness Levels (SRL) definitions. Credit DND.

The announcement is just the first part of a multi-part program spread out over 20 years. The IDEeS program aims create innovative solutions along a 9 level solution readiness level (SRL) over the course of the program.

The first component, 1a, is meant to establish science and technology (S&T) merit, innovativeness and impact.

Solutions in this area are meant to fall within SRL’s 1 -6.

There are 16 science and technology challenges;

  1. Understanding and addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  2. Recruit, retain, and reach 25% female representation by 2026
  3. Cognitive Performance Enhancement
  4. Predicting and Optimizing Personnel Performance
  5. Human Performance in Extreme Climatic Environments
  6. Detection and Classification of Objects of Interest
  7. Persistent Maritime Surveillance
  8. Lightweight Ballistic Protection
  9. Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) Hazard Detection and Planning
  10. Proactive Deterrence
  11. Collaboration of Robotic Systems
  12. Resilient Non-Global Positioning System (GPS) Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing
  13. Identification and Characterization of Space Objects
  14. What is in that Full Motion Video?
  15. Making Sense of the Chatter
  16. Cyber Attribution for the Defence of Canada

In announcing the program Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan said “the IDEaS Program will provide unique opportunities for Canadians to put forward their best solutions on defence and security challenges, and will help put those solutions into the hands of the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces. This investment will support the growth and expansion of Canada’s innovation community for the next 20 years.”

DND Infographic - IDEaS Building Defence Capability
Infographic – IDEaS Building Defence Capability. Credit: DND.

Proposals must be submitted by May 24, 2018 for this round and are capped at $200,000 per proposal. DND will spend up to $50 million on this phase of the program. Winning proposals will have six months to complete the work. DND says contracts are expected to be awarded in the fall.

The RFP states that “around the conclusion of Component 1a, PWGSC may invite the suppliers of the successful solutions to propose the advancement of their solution. Funds are limited to a maximum of $1,000,000 (Applicable Taxes included) per contract for a maximum performance period of one year.”

Based on the timeline this would mean Component 1b could start as late as June 2019.

The Space Domain

Several of the challenges relate directly to the space domain. These include:

Challenge 13) Identification and Characterization of Space Objects – In today’s highly competitive space operations environment, there is a need to improve space situational awareness to ensure a safe and efficient environment for space operations. The Department of National Defence (DND) is looking to develop a configurable Common Operating Picture (COP) of space assets that provides the required space situational awareness for informed, expedited decision-making in support of space system operations.

Challenge 16) Cyber Attribution for the Defence of Canada – The Department of National Defence (DND) is looking for innovative approaches to access, interpret, and compare all available evidence (e.g. technical, all-source intelligence) on how current cyberspace activities get attributed. This will assist in assessing the current cyberspace environment to improve methods on how to obtain secure cyberspace attribution in a timely manner.

Some of the other challenges will have the need of satellites including challenge 11, Collaboration of Robotic Systems.

Long Term Vision – Short Term Political Reality?

On the surface, the $1.6 billion program appears to be significant. However, the RFP states that “the IDEaS Program is in its infancy and subject to change”. Read what you will into that, but remember that next year is an election year, and if the Liberals don’t get re-elected there’s no guarantee the next government will move forward with the next phases of the program.

Video of the announcement.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and Executive Vice President, Content of SpaceNews. Boucher has 25+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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