The Invisible Threat: Countering Cognitive Warfare


Adversarial attempts to manipulate human behaviour will present an enduring challenge to Allied nations’ defence and security. This emerging threat of modern warfare goes beyond controlling the flow of information. Cognitive warfare seeks to change not only what people think, but also how they act. Attacks against the cognitive domain involve the integration of cyber, disinformation/misinformation, psychological, and social-engineering capabilities. The new operating environment for decision-makers engages their ability to both detect and respond to attacks on the cognitive domain. 

Cognitive warfare positions the mind as a battle space and contested domain. Its objective is to sow dissonance, instigate conflicting narratives, polarize opinion, and radicalize groups. Cognitive warfare can motivate people to act in ways that can disrupt or fragment an otherwise cohesive society. Ensuing disorder can influence decision-making, change ideologies, and generate distrust among Allies.

Canada is proud to host the Fall 2021 NATO Innovation Challenge

This pitch-style event invites non-traditional innovative thinkers from across all 30 NATO member nations to showcase ways of securing the cognitive domain against attacks. Whether you work at an industry start-up, in academia, or are part of an established small/medium business, NATO is looking for new technologies and measures that can combat the threat of attacks on the mind. 

International visibility and prize money can be yours. Come with your most inspiring ideas.


We are seeking innovative tools and measures to identify, assess and protect against attacks on the cognitive domain of NATO forces and their Allies.

Areas of focus include:

Identification of when NATO forces and/or their Allies are under a cognitive attack;

Verification of the scale and nature of the attack;

Quantification and/or level of the success of the attack;

Mitigation techniques, tools and measures to counter a cognitive attack; and

Support for decision-makers.

Detailed Challenge Topics

Use Cases:


until 3 Nov: Registration 

4 Nov: Abstract Submission

15 Nov: Pre-Selection

16 Nov: Finalists' kick-off meeting

26 Nov: Solution submission 

30 Nov: Pitch Day - Award Ceremony   ​