Forging Defence Innovation: Canada’s Integration into NATO DIANA Network

NATO DIANA. Image source:

NATO DIANA. Image source:

In an era where technological advancement shapes the very fabric of security and defence, collaboration becomes paramount. It is against this backdrop that Canada’s accelerators and test centres have made a significant stride by joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) network. This move brings Canada to the forefront of global defence innovation.

Canada’s commitment to fostering innovation in defence and security was reaffirmed on March 15 in Ottawa by the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, alongside the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Member of Parliament for Waterloo; Andy Fillmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax; and Darren Fisher, Member of Parliament for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour with the addition of two Canadian accelerators and 13 test centres to the NATO DIANA network. This momentous occasion showcases Canada’s dedication to advancing technology in both civilian and military spheres.

“Canada is a hub for defence innovation – and Canadian innovators have a great deal to offer our NATO Allies. Today, I congratulate all the Canadian accelerators and test centres for being selected to join NATO’s defence innovation network. The integration of our domestic experts with NATO’s network will strengthen our capacity to develop cutting-edge solutions to the security challenges faced by Canada and our NATO allies,” expressed the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence. 

NATO DIANA, established in 2022, serves as a platform uniting innovators from across the Alliance, providing access to NATO resources and expertise. With its North American Regional Office situated in Halifax, Canada, the network has found fertile ground within the country’s thriving innovation ecosystem. Halifax, with its rich tapestry of entrepreneurial ventures, research centres, and naval fleet, promises to be a cornerstone for advancing defence technology.

The network’s focus on deep tech and dual-use technologies underscores its commitment to addressing emerging threats while harnessing innovation for societal benefit. Through collaborative efforts between military operators, start-ups, researchers, and technology companies, DIANA aims to maintain NATO’s technological edge.

The newly integrated Canadian accelerators and test centres bolster DIANA’s capacity to support innovators. From Communitech in Waterloo to COVE in Dartmouth, these accelerators offer invaluable support through training, funding, and access to defence expertise. Moreover, the addition of test centres across the nation, from the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University to the National Research Council Canada facilities, provides a robust infrastructure for testing and validating cutting-edge technologies.

Area X.O in Ottawa, recognized for its expertise in smart mobility, autonomy, and connectivity technologies is one of four selected facilities in the capital, making it the home of the largest concentration of DIANA test centres in the nation. As a DIANA test centre, Area X.O aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of promising innovations, contributing not only to defence but also to global markets and the protection of citizens across NATO nations. This serves to confirm Ottawa’s reputation as a global technology hub, featuring incomparable innovation capabilities as well as expertise and companies in defence, public safety, and security. Canada’s Capital is home to headquarters for government departments such as the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI); 300+ companies including CAE, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Thales, Raytheon, and a vibrant ecosystem of startups, scaleups and SMEs; 65 government labs, Kanata North, Canada’s largest technology park, and world-leading post-secondary institutions.

“It is an honour for Area X.O to be selected as a NATO DIANA Test Centre. Since 2020, Area X.O has served 1,000+ innovators and companies, including many in defence, public safety and security. Leveraging decades of expertise and capability as a global tech hub, we look forward to facilitating international collaboration and local economic impact through DIANA. This includes the development of new IP, the commercialization of new technologies, and the attraction of new R&D, talent, business and investment to our region,” emphasized Sonya Shorey, Interim President and CEO, Invest Ottawa. 

The expansion of NATO DIANA in Canada heralds new opportunities for collaboration and impact. Ottawa, with its burgeoning technology hub, emerges as a focal point for innovation, attracting global R&D, talent, and investment. The collaboration between government departments, industry leaders, and academia further solidifies Canada’s position as a leader in defence and security.

“Ottawa is more than the nation’s capital. Anchored by the top tech talent concentration in North America, it is a global epicentre for technological and defence innovation. The selection of Area X.O and three NRC labs as DIANA test centres reinforces our commitment to fostering innovation collaboration among tech entrepreneurs, researchers, and defence experts in Canada’s Capital,” added Adam Miron, Co-Chair of Invest Ottawa. 

As Canada’s capital city continues to evolve into a global technology hub, the integration of DIANA test centres underscores a commitment to driving innovation and addressing complex defence challenges. With the support of NATO DIANA, Canadian accelerators and test centres stand poised to unlock new frontiers in defence technology, safeguarding the interests of nations and fostering a safer, more secure world.

“The selection of Area X.O and three NRC labs as NATO DIANA test centres is a testament to Ottawa’s leadership in defence and security innovation. This global recognition will help drive new business to local companies, accelerate the development and adoption of cutting-edge Ottawa technologies, and create future jobs that fuel our long-term economic growth,” said Mark Sutcliffe, Mayor of Ottawa and Co-Chair of Invest Ottawa. 

The Canadian accelerators and test centres included in the expanding DIANA network are:


Test centres:

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