The U.S. Defense Department has introduced a new investment program to help start-up companies accelerate development of dual-use hardware products.
The National Security Innovation Capital program looks to bridge shortfalls in funding for U.S. hardware start-ups developing technologies that have commercial potential and utility for national security purposes.
The program, formed in February with $15 million in seed funding from Congress, so far has awarded six prototype development contracts to companies working on rocket engine designs, ride-share-capable spacecraft, hydrogen storage, battery chemistry, and high-performance magnets.
“In just six months, NSIC created and launched this new program to support start-ups developing hardware technologies critical to national defense and economic competitiveness, while stimulating additional funding from the private sector and blocking future investment from untrusted sources,” said NSIC Director Tex Schenkkan.
Authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, NSIC came in response to worries U.S. hardware start-ups weren’t receiving sufficient funding from trusted U.S. sources, instead turning to foreign funding which could potentially result in start-ups losing control of their intellectual property.
While NSIC is accepting pitches their review and evaluation processes are currently suspended until the program receives further funding.