Halifax has been chosen by the federal government to host the new North American NATO defence innovation office, Defence Minister Anita Anand said Friday.
Canada agreed at the last meeting of the military alliance’s leaders in Madrid to host the North American regional office of the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). The other offices are located in the United Kingdom and Estonia.
The offices are meant to sharpen NATO’s technological edge by working with private sector companies and academics. Their mandate is to engage with both high-tech startups and established companies to solve critical defence and security problems.
In her remarks on a blustery Halifax jetty Friday morning, Anand described DIANA as a “crucial initiative” that will be a great fit with Halifax, which is home to several major universities and a burgeoning high-tech sector.
Admiral Rob Bauer of the Netherlands chairs the NATO Military Committee, which is made up of the western alliance’s military representatives. He said technology will swing the balance in modern conflicts — and the world is getting a demonstration of that right now in real time.
“One of the reasons that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been successful in pushing back the Russian invasion is their clever use of new technologies,” said Bauer.
“And we have all witnessed the critical role of technology companies supporting Ukraine. Help has come both from Ukraine’s own well-developed tech sector, as well as from big and small international players.”
The private sector is playing a crucial role in the war in eastern Europe, he added.
“A few months ago, when we thought of a company like Microsoft or Starlink, we thought of laptops or satellites. Now we think of them [as] companies that help win the war,” Bauer said.
Ukraine has relied heavily on Starlink’s Internet satellite communication services to support both the civilian and military sectors.