A 6-week immersive experience with an early stage startup that matches a service member with a command sponsored problem to a startup with a potential solution.

The Startup Innovation Fellowship (SIF) is a six-week fellowship program within the Education Portfolio offering Enlisted, Officer and Civilian service members with 4-15 years of service an immersive learning experience as part of a startup venture. During the fellowship, the service member is embedded within a host startup, giving the fellow daily exposure to the realities and innovation challenges faced by a startup. SIF provides service members with a rare opportunity to see how organizations outside the DoD face uncertainty.

For Potential Fellows

For DoD customers, SIF represents an opportunity to immerse select personnel with an early stage startup for a set period of time to focus on a command sponsored problem. The fellow will learn best business and technical practices from their industry host and become part of a long-term fellowship community of past, present, and future military startup innovation fellows. As much as possible, the operational background and responsibilities of the fellow are aligned with their startup host, so that they are able to return to their command with new ideas about how to improve their organization.

NSIN is looking for the fellow to come in with a clearly defined, command sponsored problem. The application is two part: the first part will be filled out by the potential fellow, and the second part will be automatically emailed to (and filled out by) the command sponsor when the fellow submits his/her portion.


  • Commander approval for 6 week TDY
  • Commander and fellow agree to a scheduled 30 min outbrief with MD5 at end of fellowship
  • TDY & Travel Funding for individual from command
  • Gov’t employee (Enlisted/Officer/GS) with 4-15 years of service

To apply, please email us

For Potential Startup Partners

For startup venture partners, the SIF program provides value by giving them a highly qualified and motivated fellow, with relevant background and skill set, for a set period of time. SIF fellows offer startups an opportunity to gain a better understanding of DoD operational problems and improve access and interactions with the DoD. This may lead to new perspectives on DoD needs and market opportunities. We’re always looking for interested startups, whether it’s for this cohort or a future one. There is no deadline to apply to be a Startup Partner for SIF.

Startup Partner Requirements:

  • < 5 years old
  • 3-20 employees

If your startup is interested in being part of the SIF program, please email Fellowship@nsin.us


What startups are participating?

NSIN has an ever-growing list of startups interested in the fellowship program. If we don’t currently have a startup that falls within the fellow’s problem area, we will go out and find startups that do.

Where are the startups located?

The startups we work with are located all over the continental United States. Fellows should be ready to travel to the startup they’re matched with to embed with the company for the duration of the program.

How does the matching process work?

Startups are identified based off of the fellow’s problem statement area. Once a good match has been found, the fellow’s application is sent to the startup to see if they would be interested in hosting the fellow. Once they confirm interest, NSIN sets up a phone call between the startup and the fellow to ensure that both parties believe it’s a good match.

What makes a good problem statement?

Successful problem statements do not dictate specific solutions, but are specific enough to be valuable to, and actionable by, the fellow and their organization. As an example, “secure the Navy’s cyber infrastructure” would be too broad, while “red team an email service” would be too narrow. A good problem statement might be better protect secure communications through a deeper understanding of cybersecurity threats.

Questions about the program?

Email Fellowship@nsin.us for further details.