When European startups were struggling to enter the US defense market, one government turned to BMNT for a different approach. The result was a new way for allies to unite and grow stronger together.
The U.S. Government frequently leverages the talents, technology, and private capital that fuels some of the most innovative U.S. startups. The ability to serve both commercial and government needs gives these startups a greater opportunity to grow and provides potentially transformative capabilities the U.S. needs to maintain global security. It’s a win-win for the startups and the government.
Innovation isn’t limited to U.S. companies. Groundbreaking startups in allied countries could also benefit and grow with the ability to win U.S. contracts. Unfortunately, figuring out how to successfully navigate U.S. rules and bureaucracy is a challenge that can take years to master – time startups don’t have if they want to stay viable. The result is foreign startups are often stymied in their ability to win U.S. contracts, which limits their growth potential to domestic or regional markets. At the same time, the U.S. is missing out on the innovation it needs to advance its goals.
If these startups could win contracts with U.S. commercial and government customers, they would have a better opportunity to mature and grow, and hopefully become stable suppliers of cutting-edge technologies needed in the U.S.
When the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (MOD) saw how many Norwegian startup founders were struggling to gain a foothold in the U.S., they saw an opportunity to change the dynamic and turned to BMNT for help.
Working with Norwegian government and defense industry leaders, BMNT designed a solution now known as the Hacking for Allies (H4Allies) accelerator, an intensive program that provides hands-on business, cultural and networking support across a variety of growth stages and industries. The model is customized by country and results in a go-to-market strategy for the U.S. market. Using its H4XLabs accelerator as the base, BMNT designed a cohort pilot program to address joint U.S. and allied challenges, leveraging each country’s technological strengths. Four teams were chosen to take part.
The companies brought expertise in aerospace, green energy for drones, medical equipment, and additive manufacturing. While tackling their joint challenges, the companies paired, concierge-style, with a BMNT advisor. Over six months, they learned how to raise funds, work with the Department of Defense, and conduct disciplined customer discovery for adjacent markets by meeting new partners and customers on the ground in the U.S.
Participants in this first cohort saw significant progress.
One team – Ubiq Aerospace – raised a $4M investment round and won a contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). Ubiq also completed a demonstration of its proprietary autonomous ice protection solution in collaboration with the Norwegian MOD, the Norwegian Armed Forces, and the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment. The solution will fly with tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) utilized by the Office of Emergency Management by the end of 2023 and be deployed with NATO allied forces in 2024 – only 34 months after completing the H4Allies program.
As of October 2023, 20 Norwegian companies have gone through the program, raising $22 million in private capital and generating $12 million in revenue internationally in the past three years.
Now in its third cohort, H4Allies is fostering the kind of allied cooperation called for in the National Defense Strategy. In addition to creating jobs as companies grow, the program provides the Allied world with tangible solutions to critical problems in aerospace, energy, cybersecurity, and related industries. With that, the U.S. and its allies are strengthening global security, contributing to economic stability and job growth, and providing local governments with measurable indices for defense innovation.