Defense Technology Accelerator 

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There is no silver bullet for connecting to these innovative teams -- and all of the current efforts will work together to enable success.  We've investigated a topic, and see an opportunity still waiting within that mission space.  We propose that the Department of Defense use what is known as a start-up accelerator in order to test solutions and iterate our acquisition model as it works with start-up companies in developing and deploying their validated mission needed prototypes. 

Those in the start-up world know the benefits of technology accelerators. Acceptance often improves the odds of success for a small business from around 10% to over 80%! We think the DoD should be taking part in that phenomenon to engage with the most promising entrepreneurial teams, and playing a role in their development to encourage the output of dual-use technology from the start-up ecosystem.

Start-up accelerators are short term, normally 3-6 month, programs that provide mentorship and education on the lean start-up methodology and assist companies in turning an idea into a demo that has been validated to have proper product-market fit. Examples of companies that have originated in start-up accelerators include Airbnb, dropbox, and Reddit.  

Start-up accelerators are fixed-term, cohort-based programs, that include mentorship and educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day.  This is how a start-up accelerator can help with some of the issues the Air Force is having  

  • IDEAS  Have an idea that would revolutionize  the Department of Defense as we know it? Great! The companies applying for a Defense Technology Accelerator cohort can come in with their own ideas.  These ideas could lead to revolutionary capability increase or more efficient systems.  Ideas will be actively encouraged and campaigned for. 
  • EMBRACE RISK The companies coming into the cohort are by definition risky.  They are backed by venture capital funds, which assumes a large return on their investment.  With that large return comes an understanding of significant risks. This type of partnership ensures that the DoD HAS TO take risks.  These risky business ventures are what also lead to significant capability increases that many times the DoD misses out on due to our risk aversion. 
  • SPEED Structure of program is to iterate fast, they teach this 
  • PROBLEMS vs. REQUIREMENTS A Defense Technology Accelerator will test the hypothesis that the DoD can submit problems, not requirements, in order to out innovate our adversaries. 
  • ADOPT FIRST An Defense Technology Accelerator would encourage many units to become early adopters for promising technology developed by start-ups... Being the first to pick up a prototype and test and "break it".  
  • AGILE PRACTICES A Defense Technology Accelerator could be used as the test-bed to test new acquisition practices that the Air Force may want to adopt service wide.

A Defense Technology Accelerator is only a small piece of the department of defense start-up ecosystem that is required to drive innovation.  However, the companies that graduate from the Defense Technology Accelerator program will have validated product mission fit and be educated and equipped to tackle some of the obstacles that normally hinder start-ups from working with the government.  For most applications a prototype is expected to take 3-24 months of iterative and incremental development in order to produce a deployable prototype.  Although a Defense Technology Accelerator cohort will only last 3-6 months,  the Defense Technology Accelerator team would work with graduated cohort teams within the Department of Defense start-up ecosystem in order to ensure that validated concepts ultimately find their hands rapidly within the warfighter's hands.