Companies participating in the inaugural National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) Propel program showcased their dual-use technologies for potential military and commercial partners during a demonstration at Newlab, in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard on Sept. 23.
NSIN Propel partners—Newlab, Decisive Point, and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)— unveiled 12 of America’s leading startups in defense and space technology including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and sensor technology. Established in 1801, the Brooklyn Navy Yard served as America’s premier naval shipbuilding facility for 165 years, and it launched some of America’s mightiest warships including: the USS Monitor, the USS Arizona, and the USS Missouri.
The companies demonstrated their dual-use technologies for current defense needs to 60 in-person attendees and 101 virtual attendees at the demo day. In addition, they received a keynote address from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata and Dexter Ang, founder of Pison, a startup developing a wrist-worn sensor that detects the faint electrical signals controlling simple hand gestures.
“Propel increased the collision rate between the 12 startups, the DoD, and government and industry partners to generate meaningful customer discovery and pilot opportunities,” said John Hrivnak, NSIN Program Manager. “More than anything else from the program, those connections will increase the speed of acquisition and likelihood of these startups successfully delivering defense procurement to critical national security challenges.”
Watch the Demo Day here.
Download a one-pager about the startups here.
MEET THE NSIN PROPEL STARTUPS
- Aloft is the market leader in drone airspace systems & Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) technologies. Their solutions make it easy to fly safely and operate compliantly at scale. Their dynamic airspace platform connects the world’s largest drone network, spanning recreational users, enterprise customers, regulators, and UTM partners across the globe.
- Asylon has created an innovative solution, allowing unmanned systems to operate with true autonomy and minimal human intervention for weeks or months at a time, enabling safe operation in hazardous environments.
- Inpher has pioneered cryptographic Secret Computing® technology for secure, privacy-preserving analytics and machine learning. Their platform allows for machine learning (ML)/ artificial intelligence (AI) model training across data silos, ensuring that the privacy and security of data is maintained while delivering the benefit of more precise models from that data.
- Project OWL builds connectivity technology that provides secure, reliable, and customizable communications and sensor networking in challenging or expensive locations. Their solution offers a fast, simple, and in some cases, a disposable solution that can provide networks for complex, austere, or decimated environments, such as communities devastated by natural disasters.
- Fraym uses AI/ML-powered software to generate geospatial data on population dynamics. Governments and organizations around the world rely on Fraym data to make strategic and operational decisions while tackling challenges like inequity and insecurity, climate vulnerability, public health, and more.
- Macro-Eyes is an AI company solving three key problems for supply chain intelligence and optimization: visibility, demand forecasting, and predicting human behavior. Macro-Eyes works with unstructured data and builds AI to operate on the edge, with zero connectivity and behind firewalls to empower computation in highly sensitive environments.
- Edge Impulse is democratizing embedded machine learning on edge devices for sensors, audio, and computer vision, at scale. From getting started in under five minutes to machine learning operations (MLOps) in production, the platform enables highly optimized signal processing + ML to be trained, tested and deployed to a wide range of hardware from microcontroller units (MCUs) to central processing units (CPUs).
- Pilot AI provides a deep learning-based computer vision platform to solve real problems directly on compute-constrained edge devices - without the bandwidth, latency, cost, or privacy implications of streaming imagery to the cloud for processing. From person detection to cross-camera tracking, Pilot AI deploys a broad range of proven solutions for consumer, commercial, and public sector customers.
- Matrixspace products and technologies bring Autonomous Flight capabilities to any business. Their unique approach to Sensor fusion, radio frequency (RF) mesh networks, and distributed AI enables people to manage large numbers of intelligent machines from any location — and these intelligent machines all talk to each other and compare notes.
- Aura Intelligent Systems is developing high-resolution 4D imaging radar for autonomous infrastructure to realize safe and autonomous navigation of drones, air taxis, and autonomous ground vehicles.
- Xona Space Systems is building a next-generation satellite navigation system using small but powerful satellites in low-Earth orbit. Xona Space Systems provides secure navigation and timing services with the resilience and accuracy that modern intelligent systems, such as critical infrastructure and autonomous vehicles, need to operate safely at scale.
- dMetrics - dMetrics is the builder of Minsky®, a zero-code, end-to-end ML/ natural language processing (NLP) platform for non-technical subject matter experts. Minsky helps users control their data, learning how to interpret what a user reads, then scaling those interpretations to billions of documents in a matter of hours without requiring any code.
“The DoD is a large technology customer, yet early-stage companies struggle to navigate the complex government procurement process. NSIN Propel gives founders the skills and access to enter the defense market and ensure that the U.S. military continues to lead at the cutting-edge of next-generation technology,” said Ryan Benitez, Principal at Decisive Point. “We want participation in NSIN Propel to be a signal to commercial markets, DoD programs, and investors that these companies have the resources and expertise necessary to successful scale their technology beyond R&D— participation in NSIN Propel should be a badge of distinction that a company is mature in its understanding of the federal market.”
“NSIN and AFRL created a unique opportunity within government and defense communities for Newlab and Decisive Point to convene a diverse range of early-stage ventures from adjacent markets that could apply their technologies to pressing national security scenarios,” explained Satish Rao, Newlab’s Chief Product Officer. “Our testbed for de-risking emerging technologies can future-proof the US’ national security while lowering the hurdle of entry into the DoD for startups with dual-use potential - ultimately allowing the US government to adopt entrepreneurial agility. We are excited to bring this capital and demand-led approach to scaling innovation within the US government and Department of Defense.”
The 2021 NSIN Propel cohort, a partnership with Newlab, Decisive Point, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), enabled the development of next-generation applications of emerging dual-use technology for government and defense. Following a diligent review and selection process, including feedback from Department of Defense (DoD) agencies, NSIN Propel recruited 12 dual-use startups from across the country, who already had validated technologies with commercial applications, and supported them as they transformed their technology into actionable capabilities and scalable solutions for success in the federal market.
Throughout the program, member companies engaged directly with AFRL and the broader DoD community to understand DoD needs and adapt commercial solutions to solve national security challenges. For example, the companies learned practical knowledge from DoD Stakeholders about acquisitions and received feedback about their capabilities in the federal market. They also gained a network of defense partners to help them raise capital and win potential contracts from investors for further development of their technology.
The National Security Innovation Network is a program of the U.S. Department of Defense that collaborates with major universities and the venture community to develop solutions that drive national security innovation. We operate three portfolios of programs and services: National Service, Collaboration, and Acceleration. Together, these portfolios form a pipeline of activities and solutions that accelerate the pace of defense innovation.
Decisive Point is a venture capital firm focused on technology for government, public safety, and defense. Decisive Point’s mission is to support founders with the guts to try; the ones who look at challenges facing the country and their communities and see problems worth solving. Decisive Point supports their clients as they navigate the federal market and invest in those that deliver solutions to both commercial customers and the nation.
Newlab is a community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Newlab membership and studios bring together entrepreneurs, engineers, inventors and industry leaders to create sustainable solutions and enterprises. Newlab employs technologies including robotics, AI and material science to transform what matters most—health, environment, media, cities, and infrastructure.