Proven Expertise, Endless Opportunity.


Propel is a program within NSIN’s Acceleration Portfolio that partners with commercial startup accelerators to provide solutions to the Department of Defense by rapidly developing dual-use companies. This approach de-risks the search for emerging technology and uses a proven strategy to accelerate the development of novel solutions relevant to the Department of Defense. By working with accelerators, Propel helps units, commands, and program offices discover and shape emerging technologies in response to the real-world needs of DoD end users.

Proven Expertise, Endless Opportunity

Propel partners with leading startup accelerators like Techstars and MassChallenge to create new opportunities for both DoD customers and early-stage ventures. By leveraging the proven developmental programs of our partners and NSIN’s nation-wide network, Propel expands DoD customer access to the venture community and assists start-ups in transforming their technology into capabilities.

Ventures that apply to Propel-associated accelerators go through a rigorous selection process to form a cohort focused around DoD challenges. Through a multi-month process, with the guidance of commercial mentors and DoD liaisons, cohort members improve their technology, strengthen their understanding of customer needs, and build their team into a viable business. The result is a small business that is much more prepared to work with the Department of Defense and succeed in the commercial market. Accelerator programs culminate in a demo day, when the start-ups show their progress to prospective customers and private sector investors.

Growing the National Security Innovation Base, One Partner at a Time

Past Propel programming has been focused on areas of technological innovation relevant to DoD, such as unmanned systems, high performance hardware and software, computer vision, augmented reality/virtual reality, and data-enabled recruiting, training, and education. Crucially, these technologies have both commercial and defense applications, because we believe that the sustainable growth of our partners depends on having broad markets.

In FY19, Propel collaborated with two accelerators to advance more than 20 high-potential dual-use ventures. To date, these ventures have received 31 DoD awards, as well as more than $31 million in DoD grants and private investment, at a 5:1 ratio of private to public dollars.

NSIN Propel Accelerator 2021

Applications for the 2021 cohort are now closed.