ACT launches Innovation Challenge on the High North

ACT launched the 11th edition of the NATO Innovation Challenge on March 27th to help the Alliance enhance its situational awareness of the Arctic Region, with a 360̊ approach from space to seabed. This Innovation Challenge is co-organized with the NATO Communications and Information Agency and the Open Seas Technology Innovation Hub, supported by the US Department of Energy. The challenge finale will be hosted by the Joint Arctic Command of Denmark on June 22nd. Submissions are accepted until May 14th 2023 EST. The best proposals will be awarded a monetary prize and could be developed by NATO.

The Arctic region is changing at a rapid pace. Due to the warming climate, the sea ice cover is thinning in some areas, and disappearing in others, for significant parts of the year. This opens new economic opportunities in areas such as transportation, resource harvesting, and tourism. It also creates potential for geopolitical conflict, as nations try to position themselves to control the area, its resources and activities. While the climate driven changes are significant, some basic geographical characteristics, of the Arctic continue to make surface and subsurface operations in the area challenging. 

Five of the eight Arctic nations are currently members of NATO. NATO has an interest in helping ensure the peace, well-being of the region and preserves its incredible resources. In this more dangerous and competitive world, NATO is increasing its presence and vigilance across the Alliance, including in the High North. 

By bringing innovative solutions from Academia and Industry, this NATO Innovation Challenge helps resolve operational problems for NATO, its member Nations, and peaceful users of the region. Relying on a fictitious scenario, this eidtion aims at collecting new and innovative solutions that will ensure effective operations in the Arctic from Space to the Seabed, taking into account its geographical specificities and the context of a NATO joint operation. 

More specifically, NATO is interested in having proposals addressing the following sub-topics: communications, situational awareness, search and rescue and sub-surface navigation. 

The NATO Innovation Challenge, initiated in 2017, is a brainstorming process aimed at resolving common Alliance and Nations operational problems efficiently and cost-effectively. Co-organized by the ACT Innovation Hub and NATO Nations, it is designed to give priority access to innovators (from Academia and Industry) and to expand NATO networks and collaboration opportunities. 

Open to all NATO Nations, the NATO Innovation Challenge allows participants to gain visibility and bring them the opportunity to potentially develop their products. It is also the cornerstone to the development of a NATO-wide Innovation Network (NATO Innovation Network or NIN). The NATO Innovation Network strives to develop a shared culture of innovation among NATO Nations and inspire transformation.