A Defense Technology Accelerator Overview
A Defense Technology Accelerator would be a 3-6 month program that accepts approximately 10-20 promising start-ups into each cohort. DoD leaders would define an area requiring innovation (for instance, "cyber security" or "drone technology"), and start-ups that apply and are selected would develop business models around solving critical problems within this central theme, or "vertical". The objective of the cohort would be to teach the teams the lean start-up methodology and how to apply those concepts to mission centric organizations. They would also teach the teams the military acquisition process ensuring that companies going through the cohort are comfortable working within the existing acquisition system. A Defense Technology Accelerator Accelerator would be part of a larger 3-24 month ecosystem designed to take start-up companies from concept idea to deployable prototype.
The lean start-up methodology is relies heavily upon the power of customer discovery. During customer discovery a company can validate product and market fit, or in the military sense product mission fit. During customer discovery companies will get direct access to operational users, program managers, senior DoD leaders, and any other beneficiary required in order to better understand the true problem and to iterate and ultimately validate the solution to that problem without ever having to build it. Teams will also be mentored on how to leverage their product concept towards dual use technology that also benefits private industry. The goal of the Defense Technology Accelerator customer discovery process is to validated a business model that supports a scalable dual use technology that benefits both the Department of Defense and the private sector.
Once a product mission fit has been validated through customer discovery, product development can begin in full. Teams will learn about agile and lean development processes in order to adopt efficient business practices. Agile development practices focuses on incremental and iterative development cycles that stress short development sprints. Each development iteration will be validated by deploying and testing the demo product in the hands of the end customer. This process is drastically different than most traditional acquisition systems within the Department of Defense, upon which requirement documents drive product development rather than incremental and concurrent hands on feedback.
Deployed Prototype Delivered
The primary purpose of a Defense Technology Accelerator is to play a role within the ecosystem that deploys new capabilities for the Air Force. Although a typical accelerator lasts 3-6 months, it is expected that many technologies will require further testing and development in order to be useful for the Department of Defense. If proper product mission fit is validated through customer discovery the Defense Technology Accelerator team will partner with organizations within the start-up ecosystem that can enable teams to take their concept through incremental and iterative development cycles to deployable prototype. Provided a successful demonstration of a prototype and proper product mission fit, the Defense Technology Accelerator team will work with the cohort team and the traditional acquisition process to transition the duel use technology into warfighter hands.