181120ih400Belgian start-up wins the Fall innovation challenge.

The availability and proliferation of technologies have provided NATO’s potential adversaries with growing capabilities and the ability to challenge the Alliance technologically, militarily and politically. In part, this is due to easy access to emerging and disruptive technologies. NATO recognized this trend in 2016. As part of a continued deterrence and defence posture, member nations agreed at the Warsaw Summit to, “identify advanced and emerging technologies, evaluate their applicability to the military domain, and implement them through innovative solutions.”

In the digital domain, a massive acceleration of the pace of technological advancements necessitates that NATO change its methods and mind-sets. The traditional capability development model must be complemented by a new, more flexible one. Allied Command Transformation will play a critical role for NATO in this regard. Through a recent adaptation of the NATO Command Structure, Allied Command Transformation will harness the capabilities of partners, industry and academia to keep a technological edge over potential adversaries. The Command’s fostering an innovative culture to support these activities, including NATO Innovation Challenges. The purpose of NATO Innovation Challenges is to tap into the minds of innovative people and teams to find more effective and efficient ways for NATO to deter potential challenges and respond to crisis situations.

At the recent NATO-Industry Forum, General Andre Lanata announced the winner of the Fall innovation challenge. ALX Systems, a Belgian start-up led by Geoffrey Mormal, designed a counter drone capability for urban areas. The drones are guided close to a target and through deep learning they can identify and destroy it. This system is dependent upon vision based recognition, 3D analysis, deep learning and other complex processes embedded inside the UAV. The challenge is run by the ACT Innovation Hub, located in Norfolk, Virginia. The Innovation Hub brings together experts collaborating to tackle NATO’s challenges and design solutions. It is an engine of the NATO Innovation Network, federating a growing number of national innovation entities.

General Lanata says, “NATO has worked tirelessly to further improve relations with companies and to spread a culture of innovation internally, with Allied Command Transformation being one of the major forces driving innovation for the Alliance.”

Click here to open General Lanata's intervention at the NATO-Industry Forum.