International Concept Development & Experimentation Conference

ICDE2021logo-320x240.pngThe International Concept Development and Experimentation Conference is NATO's annual forum for the international Concept Development and Experimentation community and stakeholders to discuss the current issues of concept development and experimentation in the capability development process.

The Conference is hosted by Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, and normally co-hosted by the Ministry of Defence of a host nation.

2021 International Concept Development and Experimentation Conference:

The 2021 International Concept Development and Experimentation (ICDE) Conference was again planned to be held in Paris. However, as the pandemic is still causing concerns and uncertainty about large gatherings, after consulting the host nation, medical advisors, and others, we have concluded that the best choice for 2021 is yet again a virtual conference.

Conference format:

Building on last year’s conference success and to maintain the engagement of and cooperation within the CD&E Community, we are now planning an “Enhanced virtual event” (‘Virtual+’) to go beyond the 2020 ICDE conference concept. The Virtual+ format will provide the arena to explore, exploit, and experiment further with the virtual format and test out ‘hybrid’ elements to gain insights for future events that, following COVID-19, undoubtedly will face demands for a certain percentage of virtual attendance even to a mainly in-person event.

The basis will again be a virtual platform, but we will use tools and ‘in-person’ elements to enhance the experience, hence ‘Virtual+’. In other words, ‘Virtual+’ implies a predominantly virtual format, enhanced with both virtual and in-person speakers and panels and/or small audience if conditions permit.

2021 Conference planning team:


Lead planner:

Lieutenant Commander Dobrin Vasilev.

Conference Objectives:

The following standing objectives are determined for the conference:

  1. Build relationships and promote a networked CD&E environment that stimulates information-sharing, collaboration, inspiration and best practices.
  2. Identify and exploit common areas of interest, building communities that innovate with purpose and coherence.
  3. Engage with partnerseducate about CD&E processes and interests, share best practices and lessons learned.

The objectives, explicitly envisioned for the 2021 Virtual+ Conference Concept:

  1. Increase engagement of ACO, nations, and COEs.
  2. Experiment in virtual interaction and networking by exploring and exploiting an enhanced virtual format.
  3. Optimize outcomes for Community of Interest (CoI) as well as individual participants.

We foresee a four-day conference - 25 until 28 October 2021. The provisional agenda is set up as follows:
Day 1: Approaches in Concept Development.
Day 2: The Value of Experimentation.
Day 3: Improve Your CD&E Skills (workshops to enhance the skills of the participants).
Day 4: What Concepts Does NATO Need? (Lessons learned from history to what we need to develop for the future).


The conference is focused at the Major General level and below, or the civilian equivalent. Attendance from the following fields, as applicable, are desired: Concept Development & Experimentation, Operational Analysis, Research and Development, Science and Technology, Doctrine Development, Military Transformation, Battle Laboratories, Centres of Excellence, Academia, the Defence Industry and Subject Matter Experts based on specific workshops/seminars. Attendees can be from a NATO nation/body, Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue or Istanbul Cooperation Initiative nations, or from nations collaborating with the US Department of Defence.

Security Classification and Language:

The program content is not classified and is normally releasable to the public. It is presented and published in English; there are no translation services available during the conference.

Concept Development and Experimentation Handbook:

You can download the handbook in pdf format by clicking the following link: CD&E Handbook - A Concept Developer’s Guide to Transformation.

To be informed on the revisions of the handbook and on CD&E in NATO you can request to be added to our mailing list by sending an e-mail to

Previous Conferences:

2020 International CD&E Conference:

The conference took place from 26-29 October 2020. Originally planned as a 20th Anniversary event in Paris, due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Conference was changed to a virtual event. In the spirit of CD&E, the event was a bold experiment in exploiting the virtual format to the fullest.

Conference Synopsis

ICDE Conference Fact Sheet

CDE Exchange Fact Sheet

2020_icde_report.png 2020 ICDE Fact Sheet.jpg 2020 CDE Exchange Fact Sheet.jpg

2019 International CD&E Conference:

The 2019 International Concept Development and Experimentation Conference took place in Madrid, Spain, 29-31 October 2019. The photos and conference reports can be found below.

2019 Conference Report.

2018 Conference Executive Summary.

2017 Conference Report.

2020 International CD&E Conference Photo Gallery: