Defense IT

SPAWAR enlists startups to commercialize Navy technologies

The U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center is working with local entrepreneurs on a technology transfer program that could yield dual-use technologies.

Navy SPAWAR logo

Tech companies in the San Diego area, where SPAWAR is based, are working together under the Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator program on the opportunity to commercialize technologies developed at SPAWAR.

The Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator is administered by Arizona State University, and is modeled on ASU’s Furnace program, a collaboration between the Defense Department and the university. That first Furnace program has resulted in 14 startups and inspired both the San Diego-based/SPAWAR program and the New York Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate.

For the SPAWAR program, San Diego State University's Lavin Entrepreneurship Center also is collaborating on the tech transfer effort along with the San Diego-based tech incubator EvoNexus.

A technology transfer program will provide promising startups with space in a technology incubator and other support services along with admission to an accelerator program headed by early-stage venture capital firm Wasabi Ventures. Qualifying startups also would be given the opportunity to demonstrate their wares to local and other U.S. venture capitalists and other investors.

Among the Navy technologies being considered for commercialization are wireless communications, computer hardware and software, and alternative fuel technologies.

Organizers said participating startups must select a Navy technology, form a management team and submit a commercialization proposal to the Furnace program by April 20. A pitch competition is scheduled for April 24. Winner will be announced on April 27, organizers said.

Winner will be enrolled in a seven-month acceleration program beginning in early May culminating in a demonstration day in December 2015 attended by potential investors.

Along with intellectual property developed by the Navy, the tech transfer program will likely gain more visibility through the participation of Wasabi Ventures. The venture capital and consulting firm based in San Mateo, Calif., has launched more than 200 startups, including the HD video streaming platform Ustream and Etherpad, the collaborative document editing service.

Among other duties, SPAWAR oversees the Navy's development and acquisition of C4ISR, IT and space technologies. SPAWAR calls itself the "Navy's Information Dominance systems command."

About the Author

George Leopold is a contributing editor for Defense Systems and author of Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom."Connect with him on Twitter at @gleopold1.

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