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Area X.O Selected as a NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) Test Centre

NATO Collaboration Will Fuel New Global Opportunity and Impact in Canada’s Capital, a Global Tech Hub

Area X.O, the R&D complex operated by Invest Ottawa that accelerates the safe development, testing and adoption of next-gen smart mobility, autonomy and connectivity technologies, is honoured to announce its selection as one of 13 NATO Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) test centres in Canada. This will enable Area X.O, its clients and partners:

  • Help NATO-endorsed innovators and firms test, validate and commercialize promising next-gen technologies, and safely get to market faster;
  • Address global defence challenges and markets by leveraging Area X.O’s unique capabilities and expertise as a certified Public Research Institution under Canada’s Industrial Technology Benefits (ITB) Policy; and
  • Contribute to the long-term protection of one billion citizens in 32 NATO nations.

NATO DIANA is a global network that will help facilitate cooperation between military operators and the Alliance’s best and brightest start-ups, scientific researchers, and technology companies to help the Alliance maintain its technological edge. Today, NATO leaders in Brussels announced the expansion of this network in Canada, selecting three additional Ottawa-based test centres alongside Area X.O. These include three labs of the National Research Council Canada (NRC), including the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre; the Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering facility; and the Digital Technologies Research Centre.

With four selected facilities, Ottawa is home to the largest cluster of NATO DIANA test centres in the country. This further positions Canada’s capital as a global technology hub with unparalleled innovation capabilities, expertise and companies in defence, public safety, and security.

NATO DIANA focuses on deep tech and dual-use technologies with both civilian and military uses. Through competitive challenges, selected innovators can receive grant funding, acceleration advice, and access to the associated network of accelerators and test centres such as Area X.O and NRC. As DIANA is operationalized over the coming year, these test centres will create opportunities to:

  • Attract new global R&D, business, talent and investment to Canada’s Capital;
  • Facilitate collaboration on emerging technologies with local, national and global innovators and firms to help solve NATO’s defence and security challenges; and
  • Accelerate homegrown technology commercialization and adoption.

It will also further strengthen Ottawa’s defence, public safety and security ecosystem. 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 and world-leading post-secondary institutions. This ecosystem is poised to benefit from the collaboration, innovation, and global exposure afforded by this prestigious NATO DIANA designation.

“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.”

–              The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“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.”

–              Sonya Shorey, Interim President and CEO, Invest Ottawa

“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.”

–              Mark Sutcliffe, Mayor of Ottawa and Co-Chair of Invest Ottawa

“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.”

–              Adam Miron, Co-Chair of Invest Ottawa

“This is a milestone achievement for Ottawa and Canada. Together with the clients it serves, Area X.O will help deliver the mission of NATO DIANA and address some of the world’s most pressing defence and security challenges. This strengthens Ottawa’s contribution to defence markets and underscores the vital role of our city in shaping the future of global security and technology.”

–              France Hébert, Vice President and General Manager, Defence & Security Canada, CAE; Vice-Chair of Invest Ottawa

“The National Research Council of Canada is part of a vibrant innovation community in our nation’s capital. We are pleased to see a strong presence of NATO test centres in Ottawa where research and innovation are coming together to deliver solutions for defence and security challenges.”

–              Mitch Davies, President, National Research Council of Canada

“The designation of Area X.O as a NATO DIANA test centre is a game-changer for defence startups like AirShare. We leverage the unique expertise and capabilities of Area X.O for R&D, testing, validation and demonstration. As a newly minted NATO DIANA Test Centre, we will have facilitated access to this global network, including prospective customers, talent and collaborators. It will also help us to identify new global markets and revenue streams that propel our growth.”

–              Shanaz Sigouin, Co-founder and Chief Administration Officer at AirShare, Inc.

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