This accelerator helps government technologies turn into viable businesses - DC


Dec. 15, 2017 12:44 pm

This accelerator helps government technologies turn into viable businesses

FedTech pairs entrepreneurs and federal labs to create startups. The next cohort is set for Spring 2018.
Members of the latest FedTech cohort.

Members of the latest FedTech cohort.

(Courtesy photo)

The Fed Tech program is looking for highly qualified innovators and entrepreneurs to become part of its Spring 2018 cohort in D.C.

Fed Tech started as part of the National Science Foundations’s DC I-Corps program back in 2013 to help entrepreneurs learn about innovations and discoveries from federal labs, and commercialize new technologies.

The accelerator program, founded by Ben Solomon, CEO of Hyperion Technologies, pairs entrepreneurs with their federal partners. The two sides are matched up based on their background and skills.

The cohort requires around 10-15 hours per week with a commitment of 8-10 weeks. The Fed Tech program even helps with company formation, marketing and sales and the licensing process.

The labs work with startups and large corporations, and are eager to see if their ideas and inventions have economic viability and dual-use adoption. Entrepreneurs benefit from the research and development of the more than 20 labs they partner with such as the Naval Research Laboratory, NASA, and MITRE.

“I don’t think I would have had this level of access if it weren’t for Fed Tech,” said Michael Haggerty, CEO of Trellon, who is working on a company in stealth mode focused on graphene-based emitter technology. Haggerty, who previously bootstrapped his ideas, appreciated the assistance the program gave him toward finding out about financing and venture capital resources.

Why do the labs want to partner with these kinds of entrepreneurs? For one, spinoffs come from the technology transfer, possibly giving birth to bigger applications than ideas and research are currently used for.

Remember that GPS navigation technology came directly from U.S. defense laboratories for use in military operations and is now used by both businesses and government alike in your smartphones, car navigation systems and smart watches. By exposure to the innovation coming from the labs, entrepreneurs can possibly gain new ideas, a technological process or even plain-old serendipity.


In the last couple of years, we’ve seen more activity around connect government research and entrepreneurs from Fulton, Maryland–based Data Tribe and the intelligence community backed venture firm In-Q-Tel.

The Fed Tech program is uniquely D.C.-centric. DC government has been supportive of the program and organized an event with them for DC Startup Week.

“This isn’t an opportunity that entrepreneurs are always thinking about. Federal Labs are not the simplest things to understand,” said Sharon Carney, Economic Strategy Director at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “We were able to pull together people who have experience working with them to get entrepreneurs to realize this could be an opportunity area.”

Fed Tech gets funding from the MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator, which is a public-private partnership between the National Defense University, New York University, and a group of research universities.

Graduates from the most recent cohort included 13 teams who demoed and presented the results from the past two months at their closing session held November 28 at the Booz Allen Innovation Center. R&D innovations from the teams included work on anti-plaque chewing gum, 3D sound technology, and electric field imaging system.

Interested in taking part in the next cohort? Apply here.


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