Key industrial capabilities

Key Industrial Capabilities (KICs) ensure that defence procurements can better drive innovation, exports and the growth of firms through various policies including the Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy.

Under the ITB Policy, winning bidders on defence and major Canadian Coast Guard procurements must undertake business activity in Canada that is equivalent to the value of the contract. In addition to building the product or providing a service in Canada, this obligation can also be met by investing in research & development and skills development in Canada as well as purchasing goods and services from Canadian suppliers.

In order to ensure that more of these activities continue to support the development of a globally-competitive defence and security sector, the Government of Canada has identified 17 KICs (see the full definitions below). The KICs represent areas of emerging technology with the potential for rapid growth and significant opportunities, established capabilities where Canada is globally competitive, and areas where domestic capacity is essential to national security. KICs are defined as the skills, technologies, and supply chains required to support the growth of these capabilities. They are broader than the companies associated with the end solution; they include the post-secondary institutions that develop skills and research, the small and medium sized businesses that form part of the value chain, and intellectual property that is developed in Canada.

These 17 capabilities were identified following extensive analysis and engagement with industry and other stakeholders and have been developed to align with Canada’s defence policy, Strong Secure, Engaged and other important Government of Canada policies.

Emerging Technologies

  • Advanced Materials
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Clean Technology
  • Cyber Resilience
  • Remotely-piloted Systems and Autonomous Technologies
  • Space Systems

Leading Competencies and Critical Industrial Services

  • Aerospace Systems and Components
  • Armour
  • Defence Systems Integration
  • Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) Systems
  • Ground Vehicle Solutions
  • In-Service Support
  • Marine Ship-Borne Mission and Platform Systems
  • Munitions
  • Shipbuilding, Design and Engineering Services
  • Sonar and Acoustic Systems
  • Training and Simulation

On procurements where there is a market-driven opportunity, ISED will motivate business activities into KICs through the Value Proposition requirements. This will mean increased opportunities for Canadian small and medium sized businesses in areas expected to drive job growth into the future, and increased private sector investments in innovative research and development including through, partnerships with Canada’s post-secondary institutions. 

The adoption of KICs was first recommended in the 2013 report, Canada First: Leveraging Defence Procurement Through Key Industrial Capabilities as a driving and enabling force to fully leverage the economic opportunities for Canadians as a result of an unprecedented level of planned defence spending.

KICs will evolve over time to reflect technological advances and changing defence requirements, and the list will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.


Emerging Technologies
Advanced Materials
Includes a range of materials and related production processes that yield significant advances in operational capability and/or cost-efficiency of equipment used in military operations. These advances include reduced weight, increased strength and resilience, lower observability, and other attributes. The materials envisioned span a wide range of technologies, including (but not limited to) composite structures (includes aerostructures), textiles, metals, plastics, ceramics, and advanced feedstocks for additive manufacturing. The related production processes used in generating the materials include additive manufacturing, 3-D printing, advanced machining, and others. The materials have broad application across military aerospace, land, marine and space domains, as well as in commercial sectors.
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) spans a range of technologies that allow machines to execute tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as pattern and speech recognition, translation, visual perception, and decision-making. AI develops or draws on disciplines such as search and mathematical optimization, machine learning, deep learning, self-learning, and neural networks. AI can reduce operator workload and automate easily repeatable tasks that otherwise require significant human involvement. AI promises enhanced efficiency in the use of trained personnel, less exposure of humans to dangerous environments, and more rapid responses to changes in the military operating environment. It can also permit the analysis of large volumes of data in support of intelligence analysis, mission planning and rehearsal, logistics and business management, cyber security and resilience, and many other activities. AI is relevant across a broad set of both defence and non-defence domains.
Clean Technology
“Clean Technology” means the design, development, engineering, manufacturing or integration of: energy-efficient or emissions-reducing propulsion systems (e.g., hybrid electric, electric), power distribution and management systems, and low-carbon intensity fuel sources (e.g., hydrogen, biofuels) for vehicle platforms; energy storage systems (e.g., pumped hydro storage, flywheel energy storage, zinc-ion batteries, lithium-ion batteries, flow batteries); renewable energy generation (i.e., solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, wave energy, tidal current energy, river hydrokinetic energy, small modular reactors for nuclear fission, nuclear fusion); energy management & distribution systems (e.g., power system automation, automatic generation control, smart grids, microgrids) that improve energy efficiency, energy security, or reduce emissions; software and equipment used to measure, monitor and analyze the environmental impacts of pollution (e.g., particulates), waste (e.g., solid waste, waste heat, waste water), noise, or emissions; equipment and processes that directly reduce or eliminate pollution, waste, noise, or emissions; and, equipment and processes for water purification, water re-use, or that result in more efficient water-usage on vehicle platforms, or in forward operating bases, deployed camps, or other remote locations. These technologies have broad application across military domains, as well as in commercial sectors.

For the purposes of this definition, the term ‘emissions’ refers to the following greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, and nitrogen trifluoride.
Cyber Resilience
Cyber resilience spans every element of the domestic commercial, civil and national security sectors and addresses the vulnerabilities created by the expansion of information technology and the knowledge economy.  Activities in this segment include design, integration and implementation of solutions that secure information and communications networks. These and other technologies should focus on achieving effective development of the following cyber capabilities:
Information security
The practice of defending electronic and digital data and information from unauthorized access/intrusion, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, perusal, inspection, recording or destruction;
IT security
Secure content and threat management (endpoint, messaging, network, web, cloud), security, vulnerability and risk management, identity and access management and other products (e.g. encryption/tokenization toolkits and security product verification testing), and education, training services and situational awareness;
Operational technology (OT) security
Monitoring, measuring and protecting industrial automation, industrial process control and related systems.  Cyber resilience may involve the development of tools and the integration of systems and processes that permit hardening of tactical systems or broader networks, encryption, cyber forensics, incident response, and others.  Capabilities developed in this domain may increasingly draw on AI as an enabling technology; for example, networks may autonomously and dynamically defend against intrusions and repair themselves if disrupted.
Remotely-piloted Systems and Autonomous Technologies
These are platforms and systems which make use of autonomous machine operations, including whole unmanned aerial, marine, or ground vehicle systems, and employ AI technologies to enable increasingly autonomous operations in both the military and commercial domains. These technologies rely on various forms of artificial intelligence, including (but not limited to) machine learning, self-learning, and neural networks, in order to increase operational speed or duration, reduce operator exposure to dangerous environments, and enhance overall mission effectiveness.
Space Systems includes both
Earth Observation Software Applications
Software and value-added services leveraging terrestrial satellite imagery and geospatial information. These solutions may be developed for a variety of applications, including navigation, surveillance and intelligence gathering, mapping, climate observation, or other military or civil purposes. These solutions may increasingly draw on capabilities contained in the AI domain to autonomously process data and execute preliminary analysis.
Satellite Systems
Design and manufacture of a wide array of satellite and other spacecraft sub-systems encompassing both space and ground segments. These include (but are not limited to) satellite buses, communications or imagery payloads, propulsion and power systems. Critically, this category also spans the ground control infrastructure needed to operate satellites and manage the data they produce.
Leading Competencies and Critical Industrial Services
Aerospace Systems and Components
Design, fabrication, assembly, and integration of aircraft structural elements, control surfaces, systems, sub-systems, parts and components of manned aerial platforms, and complete manned aerial platforms. This includes the following systems and components: landing gear (e.g. wheels, shock absorbers and related parts for the retraction and extension of aircraft landing gear, helicopter pontoons); flight control actuators; avionics; and propulsion and power systems for military aircraft (e.g. aircraft gas turbine engines, compressors, fuel systems).
Metal, ceramic, composite, or other material solutions used for both vehicle and individual soldier protection. This includes both the development and manufacture of underlying materials, and the design and manufacture of armour solutions for specific military, security, and law enforcement applications.
Defence Systems Integration
Design and integration of complex military systems that hinge on the seamless linking together of multiple sub-systems to yield an effective operational capability. These capabilities span various military platforms and enable the operation and management of weapons, defensive systems, command and control systems, sensors, decision support systems, electronic warfare devices and a platform's core sub-systems in a tightly coordinated fashion essential under highly stressing combat conditions. These systems need to present information to their operators stemming from multiple sources in a manner that is understandable, secure, and supports decision-making in a complex environment. This definition does not include the various constituent systems (e.g., missile launching systems, radars, electronic warfare systems) that the work of defence systems integration aims to combine into a cohesive whole.  Rather, the definition focuses on the skills and other capabilities needed to perform the integration work, and to create the user interface that is needed in such complex mission systems.
Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) Systems
Design, manufacture and integration of electro-optical and infrared systems for surveillance, reconnaissance, night vision, and targeting. This category also includes components and assemblies that significantly drive system capability, as well as software that enhances system performance or contributes to superior exploitation of collected sensor information. Applications for these systems are either military or civil, and feature in multiple media, including airborne platforms, satellites, ground vehicles, ships and submarines, or in fixed infrastructure.
Ground Vehicle Solutions
Design, engineering, advanced manufacturing, integration, and testing of sophisticated combat and combat support vehicles.
In-Service Support
This represents a set of capabilities needed to operate and sustain a range of military platforms and systems operating in all domains across their lifespans. In this context, the phrase "operate and sustain" includes a wide array of activities, including maintenance, repair and overhaul; diagnostic, prognostic and health management; spares and supply chain management; configuration management; system and software modification and upgrade for both capability enhancement and life extension; and overall product support integration (PSI).
Marine Ship-Borne Mission and Platform Systems
Design, engineering, development, manufacturing, testing and evaluation services related to:
  • Marine Vessel Mission/Combat Systems including command, control, and communications; data link; replenishment at sea; combat management systems; integrated navigation systems; countermeasures; and helicopter haul-down and rapid securing devices.
  • Platform Systems including bridge and platform management systems; propulsion, battle damage and machinery control systems, climate control/ventilation (HVAC) systems; and electrical systems.
This is defined as encompassing the full range of activities covered in Canada`s Munitions Supply Program (MSP).
Shipbuilding, Design and Engineering Services
This spans the range of capabilities required to build, integrate, and sustain naval and other marine vessels. This includes engineering and process management capabilities crucial to shipbuilding and integration.
Sonar and Acoustic Systems
This includes the design, manufacture and integration of sonar and/or acoustic systems used for navigation, surveillance, fire control, survey, scientific and other purposes, both military and civil. This spans both the "dry side" signal processing and system management capabilities, and the "wet side" sensor arrays.
Training and Simulation
End-to-end training and simulation capabilities that span the full breadth of live, virtual and constructive training solutions. These include simulator design, manufacture, integration and modification, training courseware development, design and integration of targets and training aids, and the provision of live, virtual, and classroom-based training services.