QUESTION: What is an accelerator?
ANSWER: An accelerator is an organization that typically helps startup and early stage companies mature and grow their businesses. Accelerators generally provide a structured training program over several months, extensive mentoring for the company founders, some limited capital investment, and access to additional investors, and other services. One of the most important values provided by accelerators is access to mentor networks that can facilitate early market validation, allowing companies to prove they have a product somebody would be willing to buy. Entrepreneurs additionally derive great value from the innovation environment, interacting with a group of people who share similar interests, and experiences in starting new businesses.
QUESTION: What is the focus of this accelerator?
ANSWER: The EMERGE! Accelerating Wearable Tech for First Responders is focused on wearable technology for first responders.
QUESTION: What do you consider to be wearable tech?
ANSWER: We are using a broad definition of wearable tech, inclusive of physiological sensors, high-performance materials, health support such as hydration, communications capabilities, situational awareness and similar technologies. The key element is a responder would have some portion of the system on their person during the response.
QUESTION: What type of operational conditions do first responders experience?
ANSWER: Operational conditions may include low or no visibility; extremes of temperature, moisture and other environmental conditions; and being jostled or roughly handled during exerting activities. Equipment must remain functional and not melt, shatter, or otherwise pose additional hazards to responders. Furthermore, responders already carry maximum equipment loads, so size and weight matter, as do the fact that additional capabilities will need to share power sources, displays, and personal-area networks.
QUESTION: Why is DHS interested in the use of accelerators?
DHS S&T is looking at a variety of new mechanisms including accelerators, prize competitions, and open dialogues to foster innovation and speed the process of getting capabilities into the hands of users. Specifically for the wearable technology area for first responders, some estimates are that this is a one trillion dollar commercial market over the next few years, and certainly a market that is seeing significant investment and innovation. If DHS is able to leverage this commercial activity it should be able to get cutting edge technology into the field faster and at much lower cost to the government than trying to develop these technologies on their own.
QUESTION: What is CIT’s role? What are the accelerators’ roles?
ANSWER: CIT’s mission is to foster new technologies and new technology companies through a variety of mechanisms including research grants, investments in early stage companies and by operating their own accelerator for cybersecurity companies.
CIT is also conducting research into the most effective ways for S&T to leverage accelerators.
CIT has structured this pilot program, procured the services of two accelerators, and will be involved in the submission review and selection processes and operations for this effort. The two contracted accelerators are Tech Wildcatters in Dallas Texas, and TechNexus in Chicago, Illinois.
QUESTION: What happens if I am accepted into the accelerator pilot?
ANSWER: Companies that are accepted will be provided an intensive training program and market validation involved with one of the two selected accelerators. While both accelerators interact with companies nationally and internationally, much of the value will be derived from activities at the accelerator locations. Some limited stipends will be provided to selected U.S. companies to help defray the costs of participating in the programs at these locations. The two accelerator programs are somewhat different in terms of their operation, so the specific activities will be in line with the normal programs provided by each. The programs will conclude with a Demo Day where investors and stakeholders will be invited to see the results and discuss future opportunities.
QUESTION: How does the program work?
ANSWER: The accelerator sessions will begin in July 2015, and consist of approximately 12 weeks of intensive training and market validation activities for the selected companies, culminating in a Demo Day for investors in September 2015. The application period for companies seeking to participate opens on March 20, 2015.
QUESTION: Who is eligible to apply?
ANSWER: The program is open to startups from any U.S.-based company whose founders are ready to engage in a rigorous mentorship program designed to produce the next generation of innovation in the wearable technology space.
EMERGE! is looking for candidates that are:
- Creating commercial wearable technology that could be adapted for responders;
- Able to turn their labor into commercial success; and
- Ready for startup capital, business/market mentoring and early product validation.
QUESTION: Would my service company qualify?
ANSWER: While product solutions may have some downstream service/support aspects, predominantly service companies do not qualify for the accelerator pilot program.
QUESTION: Will the government buy my product after I complete the program?
ANSWER: DHS is committed to using cutting-edge technologies and scientific talent in its quest to make America safer. However, there is no provision for the government to buy product as part of this pilot accelerator program. Furthermore, it is likely that products coming out of this effort will still require some additional product development and certainly extensive testing and validation before they are potentially ready for fielding. The federal government, and particularly S&T, is not generally the end-users of these technologies. Individual federal, state, local or tribal agencies will have their own procurement processes and requirements. DHS S&T is actively exploring ways to foster innovation and hasten transition, and the accelerator pilot program has high visibility, so we believe companies will have opportunities to demonstrate their innovative products to key industry leaders.
- See more at: http://www.cit.org/emerge/FAQs/#sthash.nuqyTodw.dpuf