The federal government is proposing to make Halifax home to the North American headquarters of NATO's new Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic, or DIANA.

Created by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization , DIANA is meant to promote cooperation between the defence sector and the startup economy. Instead of focusing on military technology, it will work with companies in spaces like artificial intelligence, big data, quantum computing, biotech and advanced material. NATO countries are increasingly facing competitive pressure from nations like China in the domains on which DIANA is focused.

NATO has not yet accepted Canada’s proposal, but if it does, the city will become one of nine to host DIANA outposts. The Halifax office would work closely with the European Regional Office in London and coordinate the work of accelerators and test centres throughout North America.

"As home to several major universities and research centres, hundreds of science and technology start-ups and Canada’s Atlantic naval fleet, Halifax is well-positioned to support DIANA, as well as innovators and industry across North America," said Defence Minister Anita Anand, in a statement.

Halifax is growing as an oceantech hub in Canada, and the addition of the DIANA office in the city could help companies developing naval technology.  

“The Halifax region is home to Canadian Armed Forces, private, public, and post-secondary organizations driving research, development, and commercialization,” said Melanie Nadeau, CEO of the Dartmouth-based Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, in a statement. Many oceantech companies whose technology has defence applications locate some or all of their staff at COVE.

“Halifax has everything innovators and operational end users need to foster a transatlantic ecosystem supporting dual-use ground-breaking innovation in deep technologies.”

Created at the beginning of the Cold War as a bulwark against communist aggression, NATO now functions as a collective security alliance with 30 member states, including all of the major Western powers.

Concurrent with DIANA, NATO has also created a $1.3 billion venture capital fund backed by 22 countries.