The Air Force’s Boston-based unmanned systems technology accelerator program is expanding as it heads into its second year.
The program, run in partnership with private-sector accelerator Techstars, now boasts partnerships with additional Air Force offices and a brand new corporate sponsor — BAE Systems. In this second iteration, the three-month bootcamp will be accepting companies with “commercially viable” anti-drone technologies like sensors and computer vision to “identify” and “mitigate” unmanned systems. The program is also looking for “innovative immersive-training technologies” and “technologies to support data-enabled recruiting, training and education.”
Applications for the program are open now through Nov. 30, and the programming will kick off in early February 2019. While the Air Force does not invest in participant companies, the application form indicates that companies could get “up to $120K” from Techstars in return for 6 to 10 percent equity.
The accelerator’s first 10-company cohort began in January 2018 and wrapped up with a demo day in April. According to accelerator leadership, this pilot edition went well.
“We were encouraged by the disruptive innovations produced by the first class,” Capt. Steve Lauver, director of technology accelerators at AFWERX and one of the original brains behind the idea, said in a statement. “As we aggressively seek to improve our sales cycles, processes, and the speed at which we transition promising technology to the warfighter, it is invaluable to have an experienced and respected partner, like Techstars, to help us build trust and interact seamlessly with the startup ecosystem.”
The coming second cohort will again be run by managing director Warren Katz, with Conrad Hollomon filling the role of program director. As a sponsor, BAE Systems will also be included in the recruitment and selection of companies in the cohort.
“BAE Systems is committed to lending our technical expertise, market knowledge and resources to startups in support of the local innovation ecosystems,” Jerry M. Wohletz, vice president and general manager of FAST Labs at BAE Systems, said in a statement. “Teaming up with Techstars supports our goal of leveraging and developing disruptive technologies to deliver discriminating solutions to our customers at the speed of innovation.”