The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) Defense Innovation Accelerator (DIA) 2021 Showcase Day concluded with two standout award winners and remarks from Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly.
Preparation for the NSIN DIA program began over nine months ago with the evaluation of more than 450 DoD lab technologies’ commercialization potential. The 2021 cohort kicked off by pairing the top 22 technologies with teams of entrepreneurs who diligently worked to create value propositions and product-market fits.
The intensive iteration led to the selection of six teams who pitched their projects to investors, government partners, and fellow entrepreneurs at a showcase day on Sept. 14.
Two teams of entrepreneurs and innovators claimed prizes at the showcase:
Winner: Team ELVEE
ELVEE is a biomechanics lab, in a shoe. It incorporates measurement technologies that exist only in state-of-the-art laboratories into a small, portable insert and ankle electronics package. The inserts replace ordinary shoe insoles and fit into any standard boot or running shoe and the ankle package is adjustable. ELVEE can determine weight, movement and joint patterns like ankle position, forces on the ankle, weight distribution, and ankle power in real-time conditions.
“One of my biggest takeaways from the program is the process of technology transfer and licensing,” said ELVEE’s Bobby Izuta. “Before this program I never would have thought it was a viable option to start a business based on a licensed technology developed by a federally funded research center.”
“The opportunity to be matched with an entrepreneurial team, an interesting and highly promising technology, a set of advisors, and a whole cohort of other entrepreneurs was exceptional,” said ELVEE’s Julie Yelle. “I don’t know of any other program that offers such an experience. For me, DIA gave me the long-awaited chance to begin practically applying much of what I had been exposed only theoretically or secondhand elsewhere in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, especially customer discovery.”
Watch ELVEE’s DIA Pitch Video:
Click here to learn more about ELVEE on UNUM.
Runner-Up: Team Monolithium
Monolithium is a solid-state battery company that focuses on dual-use markets of unmanned aerial vehicles, tactical micro-grids, power tools, wearable health devices, and electric vehicles.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work together with the Defense Department to solve the challenge of bridging the gap from lab to market,” said Monolithium’s Anna Melker. “Throughout the NSIN DIA program, we had the good fortune of the complete support and energy of our inventor, dedicated mentorship and coaching, and a framework to be successful. Thank you to DIA for experimenting with new ways to support scientific discovery and entrepreneurship, ultimately making America stronger.”
Watch Monolithium’s DIA Pitch Video
Click here to learn more about Monolithium on UNUM.
The teams in the DIA competition experienced more than 50 hours of programming, conducted more than 1,500 customer discovery interviews, and formed companies with the support of advisors across legal, product development, and marketing and business development areas.
The DIA program, powered by FedTech, matches breakthrough Department of Defense (DoD) lab technologies with teams of entrepreneurs to solve the real-world problems of DoD and commercial sponsors. Starting in May 2021, 22 teams evaluated the commercialization potential of DoD technologies. As of September 2021, 11 of those teams have already formed companies based on their technologies, or submitted their applications to do so.
The Defense Innovation Accelerator is a program of 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 are sourced from across the U.S., formed into teams, provided mentors and coaches, and matched with inventors of new and 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 technologies from the labs, and win DoD contracts to continue developing their solutions.