Seven microelectronics firms received nearly $10 million in combined funding to commercialize technologies of interest to the U.S. military services as winners of the Defense Business Accelerator (DBX) Microelectronics Challenge. This groundbreaking initiative is funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) and led by the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE).

The challenge aims to revolutionize how the DoD drives the development of dual-use technology, which can be used for both civilian and military applications. The challenge is testing the hypothesis that the DoD can accelerate growth of a robust domestic industrial base by focusing its resources on commercialization of early-stage, hardware-intensive technologies and then scaling them into resilient businesses in partnership with private capital.

The DBX Microelectronics Challenge offered an unprecedented opportunity for advanced technology innovators to vie for funding of up to $2 million each to further commercialize their emerging technologies. The winning companies also will receive commercialization support through an ongoing accelerator program, which includes one-on-one coaching, access to resources and more. The accelerator program’s goal is to not only mature the technology but also scale the domestic business to fill critical gaps in the microelectronics supply chain.

After rigorous evaluation of 279 submissions received via an open solicitation, 25 finalists pitched their groundbreaking ideas at the Defense TechConnect Innovation Summit on November 28. A distinguished panel of industry experts, investors and a DoD representative judged the presentations, selecting the following seven challenge winners for a combined $9.6 million in funding:

  • Freedom Photonics LLC ($1,500,000)
  • Gigantor Technologies ($2,000,000)
  • Momentum Optics ($1,675,000)
  • Mosaic Microsystems ($1,000,000)
  • PseudolithIC, Inc. ($1,000,000)
  • SiliconCore Technology, Inc. ($1,675,000)
  • Soctera, Inc. ($750,000)

“Typically, the timeline from selection to contract award and receipt of funding is several months. DBX leverages the flexibility of Other Transactions Authority (OTA), along with some innovative structuring of the OTA agreement, to enable awardees to receive funding within 48 hours of their selection at the pitch event,” said Christopher Zember, senior fellow for Industrial Base Resilience who is supporting DoD as the architect and lead for this project.

The collaboration between USPAE, a non-profit organization with members spanning the electronics ecosystem, and the DoD’s Manufacturing Capability Expansion & Investment Prioritization Directorate (MCEIP) has been instrumental in driving this initiative forward. Tactical support from Advanced Technology International (ATI), and specifically its TechConnect division, has further fortified the success of the DBX Microelectronics Challenge. To help awardees advance their efforts, Fluent is providing each with key metrics from  commercialization assessments and tools for business development.

“We’re honored to move the area of microelectronics forward with this funding and the ongoing accelerator program that we’ll make available to the winners over the next eighteen months,” said Nathan Edwards, executive director of USPAE. “The outcome will be faster access to dual-use technologies for which the military services already have a validated interest.”

About U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE)

USPAE helps ensure the U.S. government (USG) has access to resilient and trusted electronics supply chains. An independent industry association, USPAE strengthens interactions between the USG and leaders in the electronics industry and academia. It facilitates collaboration on electronics innovations, helps solve government challenges and accelerates the adoption of new technologies. USPAE is a non-profit organization, and its members are organized in the U.S. or its allied countries. They are leaders in researching and developing innovative technologies and experts in designing, prototyping and producing advanced electronics. All have committed to high standards in quality, cybersecurity, anti-counterfeiting and supply chain risk management, helping ensure they are resilient, trusted and secure.

About Advanced Technology International

ATI, a public-service nonprofit based in Summerville, S.C., builds and manages collaborations that conduct research and development of new technologies to solve our nation’s most pressing challenges. Fueled by a community of experts from industry, academia, and government, ATI accelerates impact by using the power of collaboration to help the federal government quickly acquire novel technologies. It is a public-service research institute organized as a nonprofit corporation, which is dedicated to informing decisions that shape the nation’s future.

About TechConnect

With 25+ years of experience connecting emerging technologies with unique funding and partnership opportunities, TechConnect boasts the most robust research and innovation network in the world. It employs a broad scope of tools to deliver top technologies, including open innovation programs, conferences, and open-access publications. Each year, TechConnect prospects, vets, and connects thousands of emerging technologies with corporate, investment, municipal, and national defense clients. TechConnect is a division of Advanced Technology International.

About Fluent

Fluent is a Denver-based technology company that partners with innovative organizations to provide startup data and coaching services focused on business model development and product-market fit.