Natural Resources Canada is seeking proposals from small firms for high-resolution forest mapping data solutions.

OTTAWA : Wildfires, as Canadians have seen in recent years, have had a huge impact on their lives, communities, and the country’s economy. This was notably true in 2021, when Canada saw one of its most destructive fire seasons in years, with 6,224 flames and a total area burnt of 4.18 million hectares, an area seven times the size of Prince Edward Island.

The Government of Canada is initiating a challenge and inviting Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to submit creative ideas to aid areas at danger from wildfires through the Innovative Solutions Canada initiative. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is encouraging entrepreneurs to create unique software capable of providing high-resolution vegetation mapping data in wildland urban interface zones and wilderness areas near towns as part of the initiative. Small and medium-sized firms will have until March 21, 2022, to submit an application.

“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

With timely and precise mapping data on fuel properties, fire behaviour prediction and wildfire hazard assessment and mitigation may be considerably enhanced. This data is critical for understanding how we confront and respond to natural disasters such as wildfires. While the forest industry already gathers information on vegetation structure and composition, there are currently insufficient technologies available for the rapid and cost-effective extraction of wildfire fuel properties from this data.

Winners of the Challenge may earn up to $150,000 to enhance their research and development into unique software, and if approved into Phase 2 of the programme, up to $1 million to produce a functioning prototype. The government may then act as a first customer, assisting these enterprises in commercialising their inventions, scaling up their operations, and creating excellent middle-class employment across Canada.

The Innovative Solutions Canada initiative is a challenge-based research and development procurement programme for Canadian innovators who wish to establish or grow their firm and bring their discoveries 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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