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NATO Opens Defense Innovation Challenge Seeking C4ISR Solutions

The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI) has opened its fourth annual Defense Innovation Challenge. It is open to start-ups, SMEs and academia; and invites proposals on solutions to support NATO's command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and cyber capabilities.

This year's challenge focuses on data science and natural language processing: processing for semantics and sentiment analysis, or processing data from maritime environments; capabilities for sensing the maritime environment; and solutions to the problems of telecommunications in the High North.

"The NITEC innovation challenge," said Mike Street, Head of innovation and data science at the NCI Agency, "is a great way for a wide range of companies and organizations to share their innovative products and services with the NCI Agency. It is one of the routes we use to ensure that NATO's technology experts stay aware of how innovative technologies are being applied."

The top ten entrants get the opportunity for a 5-minute pitch presentation during the plenary session of NITEC19 and showcase space in the exhibition area. The ultimate winner will receive a monetary award of Ä10,000, and meetings with and mentoring from NCI agency managers.

Last year's top ten finalists included three firms from Canada, two firms from the U.S., and one each from Estonia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and the UK. Three subjects involved the secure federation of IoT devices, two involved mobile apps for defense users, two involved the application of open source analytics, two on data visualization, and one on mobile apps for government organizations.

"We are seeking to broaden engagement with innovative technology drivers as NATO undergoes its largest technological modernization in decades," said NCI Agency General Manager Kevin J. Scheid.

Entries to this year's Challenge should demonstrate the unique aspects of the entrants' technology, its innovative core and the proposed work as it relates to the focus area while highlighting its relevance to NATO. Proposals must be received by 22 March, and the winners will be announced on 8 April. Details on the Challenge and how to submit proposals are on the NITEC19 Challenge website. 

NITEC19 will be held in Oslo, Norway on 20-22 May.

Related: NATO Exercises Cyber Defences as Threat Grows 

Related: NATO Exercise Tests Skills of National Cyber Defenders 

Related: US to Let NATO Use its Cyber Defense Skills 

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Kevin Townsend is a Senior Contributor at SecurityWeek. He has been writing about high tech issues since before the birth of Microsoft. For the last 15 years he has specialized in information security; and has had many thousands of articles published in dozens of different magazines – from The Times and the Financial Times to current and long-gone computer magazines.