Techstars Joins U.S. Air Force to Launch Autonomous Tech Accelerator

October 10, 2017

10:50 am

With more government agencies taking an interest in the private sector and its innovations, Techstars is excited to announce our second defense-focused accelerator and our second accelerator in Boston – Techstars Autonomous Technology Accelerator with the U.S. Air Force.

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars has long had a presence in Boston – starting with Techstars Boston Mentorship-Driven Accelerator and Techstars Startup Weekend events in 2009. Since that time more than 1,300 entrepreneurs have participated in Techstars Startup Weekend Boston and we have accelerated more than 100 companies through the Techstars Boston Mentorship-Driven Accelerator.

For decades, the U.S. military has been a key driver of technology and innovation, with the Pentagon serving as the primary funder for early growth of Silicon Valley. Super Glue, Post-It Notes, GPS, cellular technology, lithium ion batteries, even the internet, all originated with the military. In fact, the U.S. military is responsible for almost all of the technology in the iPhone. We wouldn’t have Siri without the Department of Defense. In addition, the Department of Defense budget is $600 billion annually – almost 10 times larger than all U.S. venture capital combined ($69 billion).

Most exciting, however, is that we are working with some forward-thinking entrepreneurs inside the military who have realized that the pace of innovation in the private sector is accelerating away from the military. To maintain a leadership position, the U.S. military must start doing business with startups that otherwise avoid bureaucracy, by adapting their  business processes to match the commercial world, not the other way around.

The Techstars Autonomous Technology Accelerator with the U. S. Air Force will focus on commercially viable startups with dual-purpose technologies– a private sector application as well as government application, including companies with autonomous technology that might enable or enhance the ability to detect, track, identify, characterize, attribute or mitigate drone systems, to include, but not limited to, sensor technology, high-performance computational hardware and software, computer vision and digital image processing, AI, multi-modal sensor integration, secure communications, trusted identification, power systems, high-performance materials, integration systems, and human machine interface.

I will be the managing director for this program. Applications open today, and the program will begin in January 2018 in Boston.

Read more about accelerators around the country at TechCo

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Warren Katz co-founded MÄK Technologies in 1990, a leading global vendor of military simulation software. In December 2006, MÄK was acquired by VT Systems of Alexandria, Virginia. He is an avid mentor and angel investor at both Techstars and Bolt, with expertise in how to fund companies using government contracts. He is a noted industry advocate of open interoperability standards and commercial business models in Department of Defense procurement. He was six-term chairman of the Simulation Interoperability Standards Organization, the international not-for-profit consortium that develops standards for synthetic environments. From 1987 to 1990, he worked for Bolt, Beranek, and Newman as a drive train simulation expert, responsible for mathematical modeling of physical systems. He holds dual bachelor’s degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Some of Katz's investments include Harmonix, GrabCAD, Oblong, Organic Motion, and PetNet.