NATO's Strategic Warfare Development Command

NATO Launches the Innovation Challenge

August 28, 2019

NATO Launches the Innovation Challenge

The NATO Innovation Hub launched the latest Innovation Challenge today. The goal of any Innovation Challenge is to find more effective and efficient ways for NATO to deter potential security challenges and respond to crisis situations.

It does this by leveraging the expertise and innovative thinking of private sector companies, people and teams within a specific issue and timeframe. The current iteration of the Innovation Challenge, announced today, deals with decision making: NATO is seeking solutions to prepare first responders and leaders at all levels to make informed decisions in complex, dynamic situations. Specifically, the challenge deals with leadership skills, decision making solutions, human-machine optimization and mental resilience and seeks to utilize emerging technologies and data derived from the information environment.

More on the challenge is available here. The winner will be announced on October 29th, 2019, in Budapest, Hungary.

The challenge is run by the NATO Innovation Hub, stewarded by Allied Command Transformation, and brings together experts collaborating to design solutions in order to tackle NATO’s challenges and emerging threats. It is an engine of the NATO Innovation Network; federating a growing number of national innovation entities. The NATO Innovation Hub runs two NATO Innovation Challenges every year. Past Innovation Challenges have dealt with the dangers of electromagnetic pulse, data science and the development of autonomous drones.

In a 2018 Innovation Challenge, DATAIKU, a young start-up company, received the top award for their innovative software design. The software helped manage and prioritize data that gave clients a broad overview of an overall environment. Their solution allowed a data scientist to use the company’s Data Science Studio (DSS), a powerful predictive analytics solution, to provide a military intelligence cell with in-depth analysis of operational areas and trends of data flow. DATAIKU utilized an automated satellite and aerial imagery surveillance to obtain the program’s necessary information.

In the second iteration of 2018, ALX Systems, a Belgian start-up company, designed a counter drone capability for urban areas. The drones were guided close to an enemy target and, through deep learning, the drone identified and destroyed it. The system was dependent upon vision-based recognition, 3D analysis, deep learning and other complex processes embedded inside the drone.

An earlier 2019 Innovation Challenge called for solutions to prevent electromagnetic pulse damage, mitigate the effects on critical infrastructure and capabilities, and ensure rapid recovery. Electromagnetic pulse – generated by a large solar flare or a weapon – can cripple systems reliant on electricity (Smartphones, ATMs, nuclear power facilities, hospitals as well as military command and control systems) with enormous security and civil repercussions.

The Innovation Hub

Through its Innovation Hub, Allied Command Transformation leverages open innovation to harness partnerships with the private sector. The Innovation Hub is both a virtual and physical collaborative platform.

The Innovation Hub leads a network of more than 3 000 experts worldwide. It is designed to capture technological opportunities in line with Allied Command Transformation’s priorities. The Innovation Hub attracts and manages an ad hoc community of experts to collaborate and support NATO. Those experts help understand the dynamic international security environment in order to address challenges, design concepts and prototypes, and implement innovative solutions, hand-in-hand with end users. A wide range of topics or projects can be tackled by the Innovation Hub that adopts a multi-disciplinary approach.

The Need for Innovation

The availability and proliferation of technologies have provided NATO’s potential adversaries with growing capabilities and the ability to challenge the Alliance in a number of domains. In part, this is due to easy access to emerging and disruptive technologies. As part of a continued deterrence and defence posture, member nations agreed at the 2016 Warsaw Summit to, “identify advanced and emerging technologies, evaluate their applicability to the military domain, and implement them through innovative solutions.”

In the digital domain, a massive acceleration of the pace of technological advancements necessitates that NATO continuously adapt its methods and mind-sets. The traditional capability development model needs to be complemented by a new, more flexible one. Allied Command Transformation is playing a critical role for NATO in this regard. Through a recent adaptation of the NATO Command Structure, Allied Command Transformation will harness the capabilities of partners, industry and academia to keep a technological edge over potential adversaries. The Command’s fostering an innovative culture to support these activities, including NATO Innovation Challenges.


“NATO has worked tirelessly to further improve relations with companies and to spread a culture of innovation internally, with Allied Command Transformation being one of the major forces driving innovation for the Alliance.” – General André Lanata, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.
November 12, 2018.


To register for the Innovation Challenge visit this site.

For more information on the Innovation Challenge contact Serge Da Deppo at [email protected]