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Government challenges Canadian innovators to create software that will assess and mitigate wildfire hazards

Natural Resources Canada is inviting small businesses to propose high-resolution forest mapping data solutions

OTTAWA, ON, – As Canadians have witnessed over the last few years, wildfires have had a significant impact on their lives, their communities and the country’s economy. This was especially true in 2021, one of Canada’s most damaging fire seasons in years, with 6,224 fires and a total area burned of 4.18 million hectares, an area that is seven times larger than Prince Edward Island.

Through the Innovative Solutions Canada program, the Government of Canada is launching a challenge and turning to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to propose their innovative solutions to help communities that could be at risk from wildfires. Under the program, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is inviting those businesses to develop novel software capable of producing high-resolution vegetation mapping data in wildland urban interface areas and wildland areas near communities. Small and medium-sized businesses will have until March 21, 2022, to apply to the challenge.

“As wildfire risks increase, our government recognizes the urgency of adopting proactive strategies to mitigate disaster risk.With this challenge, we are mobilizing Canadian innovators to develop technologies that will improve our ability to predict and respond to wildfires and help prevent the disastrous consequences they can have on our communities.”

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Fire behaviour prediction and wildfire hazard assessment and mitigation can be greatly improved with timely and accurate mapping data on fuel attributes. This data is key to looking at how we address and respond to emergencies like wildfires and other natural events. While the forest sector already collects information on the vegetation structure and composition, there are currently not enough tools available for quick and cost-effective processing of wildfire fuel attributes from these data.

Challenge winners may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development into novel software and, if accepted into Phase 2 of the program, up to $1 million to develop a working prototype. The government can then act as a first customer, helping these businesses commercialize their innovations, scale up their business and create good middle-class jobs across Canada.

The Innovative Solutions Canada effort is a challenge-based research and development procurement program dedicated to Canadian innovators who want to start or grow their business and get their innovations to market.

“Strengthening the resilience of our communities and our wildlands through the research and development of science-based tools is a priority for Canada. Through this challenge, we are working to mitigate the risk posed by wildland fires and curb the loss of biodiversity in our forests, while providing economic opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses across the country.”

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources


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