Department Of Homeland Security Launches Accelerator Program Focused On Wearables For First Responders

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The Department of Homeland Security is teaming up with the Center for Innovative Technology at the US Air Force Academy, Dallas-based accelerator Tech Wildcatters, and Chicago-based accelerator TechNexus to develop a new accelerator program aimed at creating wearable technologies for first responders. The initiative, called the EMERGE Accelerator Program, is part of a larger DHS Science and Technology initiative aimed at engaging with entrepreneurs to promote more private-sector research and development.

While the new program will ultimately benefit DHS, the logistics are being overseen by the Center for Innovative Technology, and the day-to-day mentorship and product validation will be delivered by Tech Wildcatters and TechNexus during an on-site 12-week program that, like most accelerators, will culminate with a demo day to investors. The application window closes on May 10th, after which 10 to15 startups will be selected by the end of May. The on-site program begins in June with a demo day scheduled for September. Interestingly, the government is not providing any tangible benefits to enrolling in the program other than a stipend to defer the cost of participating. All benefits to entrepreneurs will be delivered through Tech Wildcattres and TechNexus.

For its part, Tech Wildcatters has partnered with Texas A&M’s Engineering Extension Service, which trains 170,000 first responders annually, and has partnered with San Francisco-based accelerator Wearable World to secure mentors with industry knowledge in the wearable technology space. While no formal announcement has been made on funding, Tech Wildcatters is providing accepted startups with $25,000 in seed funding and has a respectable track record of getting its portfolio company’s additional funding from investors after graduation. TechNexus has not published benefits information for its applicants as of yet.

Each accelerator program will be evaluating startups based on the impact its wearable technology product will have on first responders working in potentially hazardous conditions. Included in EMERGE’s definition of a wearable are physiological sensors, high-performance materials, health support such as hydration, communications capabilities, and situational awareness tools. The DHS reports that its interest in the accelerator space is purely speculative, and that it does not have the intention or approved funding to contract with any of the startups selected to procure their solutions.


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