November 8, 2022
Hacking 4 Allies, a pioneering program designed to elevate tech innovation and collaboration among allied nations, recently held an international and multi-sectoral gathering to commemorate its continued expansion into new countries and areas. The gathering served as an opportunity to learn together, develop strategies, and build lasting connections. Participants enjoyed happy hour events, networking, problem-solving meetings and more as a way to foster growth and goodwill between America’s defense industry and allied partners’ innovative solutions.
Hacking 4 Allies is a partnership among BMNT; its enterprise accelerator H4XLabs; and allied nation collaborators –Norway and Australia. The program’s goal is to support companies from allied nations entering the U.S. market and enable essential technology to solve shared threats and problems.
Ellen Chang, Director of H4XLabs and Hacking 4 Allies, explained the significance of the meeting, saying, “It is no accident that the concept of Hacking 4 Allies continues to grow beyond our expectations. We are witnessing unprecedented demand from friendly nations with shared values to unite and grow stronger together. Bringing together multiple allies to bolster technological capacity across the board is our step toward a safer, more secure future.”
Hacking 4 Allies furthers the current National Security Strategy emphasis on the United States’ unrivaled network of allies and partners to protect and advance America’s interests around the world. “The program’s growth enables heightened capacity across involved allies, and enhances capabilities into regions critical for continued peace, including the Arctic and South China Sea”, Ellen added.
The event, held in mid-October in Washington, D.C., brought together 11 startup and scaleup founders from Norway and Australia; experts from AFWERX, DIU, NSIN, NavalX, Lockheed Martin Ventures, Marlin Spike, SRI Ventures and Silicon Valley Defense Group; and key leaders in the defense industry. The event served as equal parts cultural exchange, mentorship for foreign entrepreneurs on entering the American defense and commercial marketplaces, and a deep dive into new, exciting technologies that are emerging on the global stage.
Technology presentations and collaborative meetings kicked off the week’s events. Allied visitors presented their capabilities to venture capitalists and defense decision-makers, and gained valuable feedback for future growth. During the meetings, participants discussed strategic advice, common pain points, and visions for the future, while defense and Silicon Valley attendees reaffirmed the importance of dual-use technology when considering growth into American markets.
An evening happy hour centered around networking and building lasting connections welcomed broader attendees within the dual-use ecosystem to include large companies and contracting partners, former military generals and investors. This provided the allied startups a foothold into the American marketplace intended to position them for optimal growth and opportunity.
"It’s all about exposure and making lasting relationships,” explained Jamie Watson, Director of BMNT Australia. “During the H4Allies program, companies accelerate their ability to solve public sector challenges that are mutually beneficial to the United States and its allies. Our tailored coaching, mentoring, and advice, along with the valuable face-time and networking that we experienced while visiting Washington, will continue to deliver a great impact for Australian innovators."
While in D.C., Australian and Norwegian innovators also attended the Army USA (AUSA) Conference. With over 35,000 attendees and hundreds of technologies showcased, the companies witnessed the size of the U.S. defense industrial base and the dual-use momentum. They had the opportunity to demonstrate their products/technologies to a wide range of prospective clients and to meet potential business partners with both large channel companies and niche industry organizations.
Christian Gabrielsen, CEO of Blueye, said of the experience: "Blueye underwater drones are deployed in various scenarios and in different environments because of the vast capabilities offered in such a small, robust, and user-friendly machine. For example, Blueye has made available the world's first pictures and videos from the Nord Stream pipeline. The images immediately went viral after being released and we are proud to be part of bringing this footage to the world. At AUSA, the program helped us connect to relevant networks and hone our strategy. Through growing in the US market, our hope is that our technology can continue to make an impact where it is most needed."
Einar I. Gustafson, Counselor for Defense Industry Cooperation at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, said of the visit: “The goal of the H4Allies program is to spur business growth between Norway and the US in areas of interest to both countries. For the founders, meeting potential partners and customers, and key organizations in Washington DC is essential to supporting these exciting companies that are bringing new solutions and growing a presence in the US market. ”
The following startups and scaleups participated:
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