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

Posted in News, Press Releases

Mar 14, 2024

Area X.O logo and Invest Ottawa logo.

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

Ottawa, Ontario – March 14, 2024: 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, Kanata North, Canada’s largest technology park, 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. 


About Ottawa – A Global Tech Hub 

In the heart of Canada lies a powerhouse of innovation—Ottawa, Canada’s Capital. Here, tech talent is in our DNA. We have North America’s highest tech talent concentration at 13.3%. Our innovation playground? It’s vast and diverse, with 94,000 tech founders and titans, and 1,800+ companies creating solutions that impact our lives. Our strengths span software, AI, machine learning, smart mobility, cyber, 5G, digital health and more. Global giants like Nokia, Ericsson, CAE, Lockheed Martin, and Thales share our streets with two of Canada’s top unicorns and publicly traded tech companies Kinaxis and Shopify; fellow homegrown heroes like Ross Video, Fullscript and Mitel; and startups and scaleups like Assent, Solink, and MindBridge.  

Home to world-class post-secondary institutions and 168,000 students, including 28,000+ STEM pioneers, we are Canada’s most educated city. With Kanata North Tech Park, the largest in the country; 65 government labs; 130 embassies; and our unrivalled quality of life, we aren’t simply Canada’s Capital. We are a global tech capital. And our true magic lies in our diverse, collaborative community. 

Join us in Ottawa. We’re not just imagining our future—we’re building it.  www.whyottawa.ca www.workinottawa.ca   

About Area X.O 

Area X.O is the R&D complex in Canada’s Capital that enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing, and adoption of next-generation smart mobility, autonomy, and connectivity technologies. Area X.O helps startups, SMEs, multinationals, and governments address grand challenges and opportunities, and get to market faster. Combining diverse expertise with Ottawa’s telecom and cybersecurity strengths as a global tech hub and operating one of the most advanced communications infrastructures in the world, it is the only all-weather R&D complex of its kind in North America with a private and public Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) test facility on city streets that fuels the creation, commercialization, and adoption of breakthrough smart mobility innovations. These applications benefit our community, economy, and environment, and span: telecom, smart agriculture, defence, security, and public safety; unmanned aerial vehicles, and smart cities. Established and managed by Invest Ottawa, Area X.O leverages critical support from world-class founding partners, including: the Government of Canada (through FedDev Ontario), the Government of Ontario (through the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network managed by the Ontario Centre of Innovation), the City of Ottawa, Accenture, BlackBerry QNX, Ericsson, Microsoft, Nokia, and Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions. www.AreaXO.com    

About Invest Ottawa 

Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative, inclusive, and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion, and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life.  Invest Ottawa is also the manager of Bayview Yards, Ottawa’s innovation hub and one-stop business acceleration shop; and founder and operator of Area X.O, the R&D complex for next-gen smart mobility, autonomy and connectivity technologies. Since 2013, Invest Ottawa has supported almost 14,000; contributed to the creation of more than 14,700 jobs; helped domestic companies raise $1.86 billion in capital; and attracted $1.47 billion in domestic and foreign direct investment to Ottawa. www.investottawa.ca    

For more information, contact:  

Sonya Shorey 

Interim President and CEO, Invest Ottawa 


[email protected]   

Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa, is Ottawa’s leading economic development agency for fostering the advancement of the region's globally competitive knowledge-based institutions and industries. Invest Ottawa delivers its economic development services through a unique partnership with the City of Ottawa, where the City and Invest Ottawa, through its members set the strategy and manage the programs that move Ottawa’s economy forward. Invest Ottawa is a non-profit, partnership organization that operates on an annual budget that comes from a variety of sources including: municipal, federal and provincial government; membership fees; professional development programs; and private sector contributions.

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