RCN and CANSOFCOM team up with Creative Destruction Lab to promote innovation and technology

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Navy News / May 2, 2019

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) have partnered with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), founded at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

“We recognize that new technology is accelerating at a rapid rate,” says Commander Scott Shortridge, Director of Maritime Innovation. “To understand the network however, you must first be part of it.”

Participation in the CDL program will provide a collaborative environment in which the RCN and CANSOFCOM can directly engage start-ups and business leaders in the development of technology use-cases.

For CDL ventures, the partnership provides the opportunity to validate their technology and explore applications for the products they are developing.

The RCN is looking for solutions to complex problems, and this partnership allows it to learn more about non-traditional military innovation and Canada’s technological ecosystem in the areas of Prime (general technologies across multi-disciplines), Cities, Oceans, Supply Chain and Health.

The RCN is focusing on using technology in clearly defined areas that mirror its commitment to being a force that is relevant to both its employees and the wider Canadian population, as well as being able to conduct missions with cutting-edge readiness.

The RCN has already worked with CDL Alumni Kognitiv Spark (CDL-Atlantic ‘18), a leader in secure, reliable and effective industrial augmented reality task support software. The RCN is using Kognitiv Spark’s augmented reality communications software to improve ship maintenance and repairs on navy vessels. Built for Microsoft’s HoloLens, MIRRAS provides holographic support for technicians making repairs, with the ability to use real-time voice and video, or locally-stored data.

“Through CDL’s program and large network of partners we will be introduced to pertinent technologies in our field,” says Rear-Admiral Casper Donovan, Director General Future Ship Capability. “A large proportion of effort is being placed into the ‘digital navy’ that will drive change for tomorrow’s sailors. We hope to inspire them, their families and Canadians at large with a digitally-enabled organization that emboldens them in an institution that is breaking with traditional bounds by leveraging the best practices of leading-edge industries. We want to empower them through a culture where innovation and change are the long-term determinants of success on the path to making the RCN a global naval leader.”

It’s an exciting time for the RCN with the Canadian Surface Combatant, Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessel and Joint Support Ship programs all on their way to delivering the future fleet. A modernization of its submarine force will also enhance its presence and capability in conducting operations below the surface, and as proved through recent successes, the ability to deploy long range beyond Canada’s coastlines and North America. CDL provides a growing global network of scientists, business leaders, MBA students and mentors.

“The future fleet is home to the future sailor, a person who is consciously and unconsciously aware of the presence of and benefits that technology has on their everyday life,” says RAdm Donovan. “When establishing a career in the Canadian Armed Forces, the expectations of processes and actions conducted in daily life must either match or exceed this delta.”

“CDL offers the RCN and CANSOFCOM the opportunity to explore the non-military innovation and technological ecosystem,” explains Cdr Scott Healey, Innovation Outreach Officer at CANSOFCOM. “Opportunities drawn from exposure to the CDL program will enhance and challenge conventional thinking and look to approach issues and opportunities from a subtly different angle, or pivot small start-ups towards programs such as IDEaS (Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security) or into bespoke trials within the enterprise.”

“Creating this culture of innovative thinking will take time, but it is foundational to an organization that wants to afford its people meaningful work,” says RAdm Donovan. “We are excited to be taking part in this program with CDL and look forward to collaborating and discovering new opportunities to improve Canada’s Navy and Special Forces.”

“This partnership will create opportunities for the RCN and CANSOFCOM to observe and understand the process of developing cutting edge technologies in the innovation and tech ecosystem,” says Sonia Sennik, Executive Director of CDL.