The DIA program pairs entrepreneurs with DoD scientists to build dual-use ventures, commercialize DoD lab technologies, and solve real-world problems for the Department.
DIA Demo Day concluded a six-month-long intense program that started with 24 teams representing eight DoD labs. This cohort resulted in the creation of nine companies, formed across five states, in the US and several licensing agreements are already underway.
Two teams of entrepreneurs and innovators claimed honors at the December 3 event:
Judges’ Choice Winner: Candelytics This technology provides greater access to 3D data to substantially increase the warfighter’s ability to train in virtual environments, resource critical parts, and manage design, overhaul, and integration operations.
Team Members: Bryan Lee, a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot and current MBA candidate at Harvard Business School; James Parker, an entrepreneur who previously designed wireless technology for the intelligence community and is currently pursuing a joint business/engineering degree at Harvard University; and Clark Yuan, a former military intelligence officer and current Innovation Officer at Army Futures Command, pursuing joint business/policy degrees at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Audience Choice Award: FORCYTE This software platform accurately calculates the sending of wireless power over long distances safely, efficiently and rapidly by assessing energy transfer scenarios using streamlined analytics and powerful data visualization. In addition, since Demo Day FORCYTE was accepted into the AFWERX Energy Challenge to further their technology development and work with the DOD.
Team Members: Mike Wilson, a Purple Heart veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps with 18 years of government experience; Mike Seper, entrepreneur, educator, and operations specialist with more than 15 years of business management experience; John Casano, entrepreneur and warfighter problem solver with more than 10 years of leading teams; and Brandon Bates, a seasoned engineer and wireless solutions developer with seven years of technical design and manufacturing and C-suite engagement experience.
Candelytics and FORCYTE will continue on the path to commercialize their technologies and pursue the development of dual-use applications. Both teams are also in the process of raising funds for further development of the companies and technologies.
Infused with the unique collaborative resources of the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) and delivery partner FedTech, the teams in the DIA competition experienced more than 50 hours of programming, conducted more than 1,500 customer discovery interviews, and formed their companies with the support of advisors across legal, product development, marketing and business development areas. The technologies included autonomous systems, sensors, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and virtual reality and computer vision.
“Demo Day is a great example of the intersection of the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation,” said Mark Antholt, NSIN DIA Program Manager. “The projects that were presented at this event originated in DoD laboratories, and have been subsequently developed by teams of entrepreneurs and innovators who have the potential to bring those original ideas to life. The projects will be invaluable in the defense and national security of our nation.”
In only a few years, the NSIN-FedTech partnership has led to the creation of 13 new ventures, which have gone on to raise more than $4 million in public and private funding and secure licenses from various DoD labs. The partnership sources talented and passionate people seeking to create high-tech companies around DoD technologies. Those individuals are then paired with real-world DoD projects that are ripe for technology transfer transition.
“This program focused on technology that started in DoD labs and was fueled by the expertise of the participating team,” said Antholt. The successes we’ve seen here show us that dual-use start-up companies can be created from technology that is coming out of those labs.”
The Defense Innovation Accelerator is a program under the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) powered by FedTech. Through the partnership, breakthrough technology is leveraged from top Defense Department research and development labs to solve real-world problems with defense and commercial customers. Entrepreneurs and Mentors are sourced from across the U.S. and matched into teams with inventors of innovative technologies from Defense Department labs. Over an intensive months long program teams go through two phases; customer discovery and early company formation. Successful teams have gone on to form companies, license the technology from the labs and pursue various funding opportunities.