Small businesses collaborated with experts in government, military, and venture capital at the Defense Entrepreneurial Symposium. Participants received exclusive access to government economic development departments, military organizations, and other startups with federal contract experience. The event began with a keynote address from St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, who recently proclaimed the week of Aug. 8, 2022, as National Security Innovation Week in St. Louis.
“There are thousands of the top innovators and experts in geospatial technology, innovators in mapping and satellites and satellite imagery, artificial intelligence and more, all eyeing St. Louis as the place to be for future security innovation,” said Mayor Jones. “The sheer pace of innovation in this industry is thrilling to see. And the future home of geospatial being built right here in The Gateway City, St. Louis, is an incredibly advantageous location for geospatial to build, innovate, and grow.”
At the symposium, startups increased their understanding of defense venture development and opportunities for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards, which provide millions of dollars annually to early-stage ventures to expand into defense markets.
“We are really driven to help the economy and the sustainability of Hawaii by assisting small businesses to form, grow and thrive… to take your ideas from invention to market with all the support you need for research and development,” Cynthia Yamasaki, Center Director of the Small Business Development Center in O‘ahu, Hawaii, explained to the companies. “Whether you’re getting funding from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, or other different agencies within the federal government, we are a partnership with you to give you that professional business advice.”
In addition to the funding resources, attendees learned best practices for entering the federal marketplace, networked with entrepreneurs working with the DoD, and heard from technology transfer offices at DoD organizations such as the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane.
“It’s really important that as one of the largest high-tech employers here in southern Indiana, as well as a laboratory that supports and develops products for the warfighter, that we continue to be able to access research and development that’s done outside of our laboratory,” said Annie Bullock, Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Specialist at NSWC Crane.
One NSIN alumni based out of the St. Louis area, Forcyte, plans to provide NSWC Crane with that innovation from the private sector.
“Forcyte is actually coming to Indiana in a few months to do a demonstration of their new and improved technology. It’s been a really amazing success and something that’s happened over the last couple years, and I’m really excited that’s come directly out of working with NSIN and the programs that they offer.”
Event organizers estimate more than 300 innovators attended the symposium to engage with NSIN’s nationwide network.
“The effort and responsibility to protect our national security has to be steadfast. It has to be intentional. It requires views from all perspectives, which goes to ensure our strategic advantage on the global stage,” said Karen Fray, National Service Portfolio Director at NSIN.
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NSIN 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.