USPAE, DoD Launch $10 Million Defense Business Accelerator to Innovate Commercialization of Advanced Electronics

In a major initiative to innovate how the Department of Defense (DoD) spurs commercial technology development, the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) and DoD launched a Defense Business Accelerator (DBX) to open doors for industrial base growth and stimulate private investment.

The experimental DBX program brings together the electronics industry expertise of USPAE with the DoD’s Manufacturing, Capability Expansion, and Investment Prioritization Directorate (MCEIP) to award funding through a process meant to accelerate solution development and improve the longevity of suppliers providing those solutions.

Together, USPAE and DoD will award up to $10 million in unique government funding for companies to commercialize technologies. The program will test whether such awards can achieve better results by focusing first on commercialization so that the agency can then leverage technology as dual-use. By focusing on commercialization up front, the DBX accelerator program is focused on improving product innovation that benefits both national security and the companies supporting it.

“This experiment is an important effort for the electronics technologies industry,” said Nathan J. Edwards, USPAE’s executive director. “If we prove it successful, we can radically change the funding process so that it encourages innovation and participation from a broader range of companies.”

DBX will conduct an open solicitation for proposals, describing the selection criteria for qualified electronics technologies and materials. Proposals will be reviewed and ranked.

Top finalists will be invited to the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit & Expo conference in November to pitch a panel of industry, government, and investment experts. A review panel of subject matter experts will select the awardees who will each receive between $500,000 and $2 million.

The DBX process flips the current model for how DoD typically awards contracts, where funding usually focuses on a DoD solution with hopes that the solution will be commercialized so that DoD can buy it again and again. Unfortunately, the current model often does not work, necessitating DoD reinvestment.

To execute DBX, USPAE is partnering with ATI, which leads federal technology R&D collaborations, and specifically ATI’s TechConnect Division, a global research and innovation organization connecting funders and emerging technologies. In addition, USPAE is employing the company Fluent to provide a “fluency score” to quantitatively measure the success of this new way for the DoD to advance technologies.

“We have witnessed firsthand in the private sector how commercialization programs leveraging crowd-sourced, non-traditional technologies have significantly expedited their development while enhancing the strength and capability of the Department of Defense,” said Matt Laudon, vice president of the TechConnect Division at ATI.

“We are enthusiastic about partnering with USPAE to extend this successful model to the public sector, eagerly anticipating the force multiplying effect that the infusion of $10 million in prize money, in parallel to related partnering and industry exposure will have on accelerating early-stage innovation,” Laudon added.

“Innovative technological ideas span companies of all sizes, but not all companies can afford the traditional process to work with the public sector,” said Christopher Zember, senior fellow for Industrial Base Resilience, who is supporting DoD as the architect and lead for this project. “DBX is a program that can open doors for more companies by providing the seed funding to grow their ideas.”

Interested parties can sign up for updates and learn about DBX on TechConnect’s website, where they can also find more information under

About The Author