IDEaS Defence Procurement Funding Opportunities

The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program offers government contracts from the Department of National Defence and Canadian Air Force to develop, test, and deploy military technologies. During targeted calls for projects, specific types of technologies and applicants are sought to identify or establish a solution. Opportunities are released throughout the year; this makes it important to keep track of those that are currently available or upcoming.

During Spring and Summer 2019, many new calls for IDEaS projects launched and have approaching deadlines. Some details about upcoming 2020 opportunities have also been released.

While each opportunity maintains a unique application intake and deadline (many of which have not yet been communicated), potential applicants are encouraged to start identifying eligible projects now. Opportunities tend to last for approximately four weeks before the application period closes; this is a small application window that should be addressed as soon as possible.

What is the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security Program?

Established in 2017, the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program is a permanent procurement used by Canada’s federal government to solicit proposals for advanced technologies. It seeks to build an innovation ecosystem that supports military and defence technologies from early concept definition to prototype development. Proposed technologies need to relate to one of the program’s currently posted opportunities.

Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) and Armed Forces (CAF) will invest $1.6 billion over 20 years, including $313 million in the first five years (2017-2021) to the IDEaS program.

DND and CAF will launch many types of IDEaS opportunities that foster a vibrant innovation system, including individual and collaborative research and development projects. This is an important aspect of IDEaS to consider; many opportunities require a specific applicant or technology focus in order to be competitive and qualify for funding consideration.

Current IDEaS Federal Procurement Opportunities

There are currently competitive and contest opportunities with announced deadlines.

Competitive Projects

The Competitive Projects stream solicits project proposals from individual applicants based on their interest and innovation capabilities. Contracts and contribution agreements are awarded in phases to allow continual progress and advancement from proof-of-concept to testing and commercialization, with different levels of support available in each phase.

The following have a September 12, 2019 deadline. Current competitive opportunities include:

  • Breaking the Ice: Ground solutions for removing frozen contaminants from aircraft.
  • Collision Course: Tracking and de-orbiting space debris.
  • Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: Reducing visual and infrared detection of soldiers and their vehicles.
  • Power Up!: Portable power for soldiers on the move.
  • Shields Up!: Defend and project satellites from natural and artificial threats.

The following have an October 3, 2019 deadline. Current competitive opportunities include:

  • A Cold Wind Blow: Seeking smaller, ruggedized wind turbines for the Arctic.
  • Casting a Wide Net: Creating secure, mobile networks while on the move.
  • Keeping Cell Phones Secure on Untrusted Networks
  • Remaining Vigilant: Identifying cyber dependencies, vulnerabilities, and threats.
  • Staying Four Steps Ahead: Understanding and predicting the behaviours of adversaries.


The Contests stream is a competitive means of finding innovative solutions and awarding prizes to the best ones. Each contest is held independently; the number of winners and type/value of prizes vary.

The following has a Contest Application Form (Round 1) deadline of November 1, 2019. Current contest opportunities include:

  • Integrating Energy, Water and Waste Management Systems For Deployed Camps: Consists of four rounds of individual and group competitions with over $3.5M in prizes to develop a scalable prototype of a Relocatable Temporary Camp for troops of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Upcoming IDeaS Federal Procurement Opportunities

There are also many additional innovation opportunities expected to become available through the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. These include:

Competitive Projects

Upcoming competitive projects include:

  • Protecting Our Forces: Active visual and IR signatures modification;
  • Putting Our People First: Rapid morale and well-being assessment;
  • Enhanced C4ISR: Artificial Intelligence for wargame operations planning;
  • Building Cyber Capability: Training of cyber-related advanced skills;
  • Defending Space Missions: Active/passive defence for satellites and space debris collision mitigation;
  • Increasing Combat Power: Power storage and generation for dismounted soldiers; and
  • Sustaining Operations: Non-visual ice accumulation measurement on aircraft.


Some upcoming contests include:

  • Concepts for a Temporary Deployable City of 4500 Personnel in Arctic or Austere Environment: Includes technology considerations for smart energy and power management, waste water management, heating and cooling power requirements, food provisioning, warehousing, solid waste management, runway and main supply route repair, and soil remediation; and
  • Low Emission CAF Operation: Alternative (non-fossil) fuel use for Arctic Utility Aircraft Fleet, ships, and buildings.

Innovation Networks

The Innovation Networks stream supports the establishment of new and (where appropriate) existing networks, to stimulate collaboration and the free flow of ideas critical to innovation. Innovation networks include academia, industry, and other partners working together to develop and implement defence technologies.

Some upcoming innovation network opportunities include:

  • Digital network infrastructure in the Arctic;
  • Full spectrum communications in the Arctic;
  • Environmentally safe energy supply for Arctic operations; and
  • Mission-critical and support facilities for the Arctic.


The Sandboxes stream presents an opportunity for innovators to test and demonstrate solutions. Scenarios and test environments are provided by the Department of National Defence or Canadian Armed Forces, and participants receive observational feedback from potential users.

There are no sandbox opportunities currently, but opportunities scheduled for 2020 include:

  • Detect, defend, and defeat Unmanned Air Vehicles; and
  • Detect and assess Naval corrosion.

Innovation Assessment & Implementation

The Innovation Assessment & Implementation stream is an opportunity for innovators to offer developed solutions in response to published challenges. If selected, innovators can observe solution testing and evaluation in a realistic test environment. Solutions may be purchased, leased, rented, or loaned from the innovator.

Some upcoming innovation assessment and implementation challenges include:

  • Accelerating Next Generation Technologies: Double current bandwidth;
  • Operating in Austere Environments: Environmentally safe energy supply for the Arctic; and
  • Increasing Combat Power: High accuracy underwater positioning, navigation, and timing system.

Apply for the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security Program

Each IDEaS challenge type has a unique application process; therefore, it’s important to understand each challenge fully before proceeding with a proposal. While some applications place more focus on how technologies could be developed to solve a challenge, others focus on how an already fully-developed solution can be used to address department needs. As the project focus changes, so does the application process.

The most critical aspect of applying to IDEaS is to keep an eye on current and upcoming challenges. Applications are generally accepted for approximately four weeks, then close for application review. To be considered, your organization or innovative partnership needs to apply on or before the challenge deadline.

To discuss upcoming innovation challenges and optimize the application process with our team of Government Funding Planners, please contact Mentor Works.

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Mentor Works provides business support services related to Canadian government funding for business. By assessing our clients’ strategic objectives and innovation challenges, we are able to match optimal government grants for small businesses in Ontario, Canada, as well as loans and tax credits.

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