MassRobotics hosted a Robotics and Technology session to provide Department of Defense (DoD) personnel a look at innovative cutting edge and emerging technology from the non-traditional startup community in Boston. This was also an opportunity for the startup community to learn about DoD initiatives and programs that are making the DoD easier to work with.
The ½ day session kicked off with a panel of DoD representatives from Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator, Air Force Techstars, AFWERX, and the Rapid Reaction Technology Office. The panel was moderated by Russ Graves from MITRE, representing their MA Innovation Bridge which connects the federal government to the high-tech ecosystem to solve problems for a safer world. Each program discussed included the types of technology they are pursuing, the technology readiness phase they work with, their funding sources, and how they advertise their programs as well as examples of startups they’ve worked with.
Matt Liba from FLIR (formerly Endeavor Robotics) provided a keynote presentation, recounting the history and origins of the company, routing back to iRobot when they were first developing robots for space exploration. Matt explained how the PackBot became a program of record and how that benefited the company. Matt also gave a sneak peak in to the new DARPA program they are involved in called SubT (subterranean). FLIR has become the largest robot supplier to the US DoD and has sold robots to 55+ countries. They are also proud to hire mostly veterans. Check out one of their videos here.
Several MassRobotics startups spoke about their technology and defense applications including: Autonodyne, ThayerMahan, Pison Technology, Notch and Awayr. This was followed by a lightning round of one-minute pitches by the Air Force Techstars class of 2019.
At the conclusion of the event, the group walked to the Harpoon Brewery for networking social including a tour of the brewery.
Both the military personnel and the start-ups appreciated the opportunity to interact and learn more about each other on an informal basis and we are planning to host a similar event again in the future.