41 minutes | Sep 8th 2020

Launching dual-use ventures, featuring Katy Person of the MIT Innovation Initiative

Dual-use ventures – tough tech startups pursuing commercial relationships with the private sector and federal government, are a unique class of companies with whom Kathryn "Katy" Person, of the MIT Innovation Initiative, works daily."[Working with the United States government, such as the Department of Defense,] is not for everyone and not for every business. It depends on whether you come in mission-focused... and it depends on your business strategy," says Katy. As a military veteran with a background in U.S. Army acquisitions, Katy observes "the trough of disillusionment occurs between Phase II and Phase III" of government contracts, and there is a delicate, strategic relationship that may harm or benefit a dual-use venture and with whom it chooses as allies, whether prime contractors, venture funds, government liaisons, university research hubs, and other entities.In this episode, we discuss the challenges tough tech entrepreneurs face balancing the myriad of funding opportunities and challenges afforded to dual-use ventures serving the private sector and federal government.---------------Show Notes* Episode page, transcript, and podcast listening links: https://toughtechtoday.com/launching-dual-use-ventures-featuring-katy-person-of-the-mit-innovation-initiative/* Katy Person on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katyperson/* MIT Dual-use Ventures Incubator program: https://innovation.mit.edu/mission-innovation-program_incubator/ * jmill’s article, Who’s Your Ally? How Tech Startups Navigate Venture Capital and Federal Funding: https://medium.com/@iamjmill/whos-your-ally-e2ff6068cd3a---------------Topic Timecodes00:46 Introducing Katy and the MIT Innovation Initiative02:23 What are “dual-use ventures”?03:25 Examples of dual-use ventures04:14 Updating legacy systems05:47 Origins of dual-use technology06:41 Defense-oriented startups: in Boston and beyond08:51 DOD funding of “innovation”09:15 AFWERX and its Open Topic Solicitation10:18 The unique approaches by each branch of the U.S. military11:32 How the U.S. government thinks about “acquisitions”13:07 About Open Topics and integrating startups into defense14:21 Taking advantage of the “Small Business Set-Asides”15:58 Venture capital, DOD contracting, and dual-use startups17:54 New technological trends like robotics, hypersonics, and medical research19:14 Influences of DARPA and BARDA20:13 Where are the undersubscribed federal government contracts?21:52 Katy’s motivation for serving mission-oriented organizations23:43 Beware the government contracting ‘trough of disillusionment’24:22 The three phases of dual-use venture contracting26:09 Draper is a contractor ally for space startups27:40 Contrasting the DOD with NATO and non-US defense organizations30:30 The pervasive nature of ITAR regulation31:09 Evaluating national ‘innovation’ approaches31:52 The need for more students entering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)32:46 A U.S. Space Force opportunity?34:11 Putting together the puzzle of government innovation cells and tech entrepreneurs34:56 MIT’s ‘Dual-use incubator’ and Louisiana Tech’s STTR program37:30 Resources for aspirational dual-use entrepreneurs
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