Defence Innovation Challenge 2019

Terms of Reference

Your guide to entry submission

Defence Innovation Challenge


The objective of the challenge is to contribute to accelerating transformational, state-of-the-art technology solutions in support of NATO C4ISR and cyber capability requirements. The challenge is intended to foster innovation eco-system by supporting Start-ups, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and academia, awarding the top finishers’ package to the best ten proposals.

2019 Defence Innovation Challenge welcomes proposals in the following priority areas:

  • Data science tools and approaches for a) Natural Language Processing for semantics and sentiment analysis, or b) processing data from maritime environments;
  • Capabilities for sensing the maritime environment;
  • Solutions to the telecommunication challenges of the High North.

The top ten finishers will receive:

  • One registration waiver for admission to NITEC19;
  • Elevator pitch presentation of 5 minutes during the plenary sessions of NITEC19;
  • Free showcase space in the Exhibition area (standard space);
  • Participation in the award ceremony with NATO leadership;
  • Mention in the NITEC19 report.

Monetary prize

A monetary prize of 10 000 EUR will be awarded to the best proposal out of the top ten finishers, designated by the selection Board, with an ambitious requirement on them to run a formal pilot with the NCI Agency where the output can be demonstrated.

Eligibility Criteria

Who can apply: Start-ups, SMEs and academia, as defined under the respective national legislation, from 29 NATO Nations, can respond to the call for proposals of the Defence Innovation Challenge 2019.


  • Launching date: 1 February 2019
  • Closing of the submission period: 22 March 2019
  • Announcement of winners: 8 April 2019

How to participate: Interested applicants are invited to submit the required information about their innovative solutions in the 2019 priority areas via a submission form available here no later than the announced date of the closure of the submission period.

Response to the innovation challenge will be analyzed by NATO internally and will not be released to other participants. Results of the innovation challenge and a description of the solution will be advertised: the 10 top ten finishers will be announced, including the proposal that will be designated as the overall winner (first place). Participants are therefore invited to provide a description of their technical solution releasable to the public as part of their submission to the Innovation Challenge.

Evaluation criteria and assessment of proposals

The submitted proposals will be evaluated by a selection Board, composed of experts in the fields concerned, and consideration will be given, but not limited, to:

  1. Degree of Innovation (from existence of the service (use by NATO) to Leading edge technology, not in use for this application area).
  2. Degree of Impact potential (from no beneficial impact on NATO to game changing impact on NATO operations or business).

The selection board’s decision on the winner and all markings will be final.


The innovation challenge is not an invitation to bid and the submitted proposals are not linked to any future contract opportunities. Response will be provided on a voluntary basis and NATO is not liable for any expenses incurred as a result of participation to the innovation challenge. Negative responses shall not prejudice or exclude companies from any future procurement that may be initiated by NATO in the future. NATO makes no commitment to initiate any procurement action as a result of the innovation challenge. Participation to the Defence Innovation Challenge and showcase at NITEC does not constitute NCI Agency endorsement of the technology presented.


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