To help mission-driven organizations solve some of the nation’s toughest challenges, BMNT has assembled an ecosystem of new and established companies over several years whose technologies provide relevant solutions to problems. In 2019, we set out to supercharge the success of such companies in the public sector by developing H4XLabs – a first-of-its-kind business accelerator focused on creating and growing dual-use companies with the potential to address national security challenges.
We launched H4XLabs quietly in 2019 and spent the bulk of the year testing operating models, while beta testing the accelerator with local companies. Officially launched in 2020, we expect H4XLabs to build a full operating capacity for 40 mission-driven companies by the end of the year.
H4XLabs provides a number of unique offerings to companies, including:
- H4X® Methodology and Thought Leadership. Created by BMNT and Steve Blank, creator of the Lean Startup movement, H4X® is a problem-centric, Lean Startup innovation pipeline methodology that takes a company from initial concept through transition at scale.
- Network of Investors. Through a close relationship with the Defense Investors Network and the Common Mission Project, H4XLabs provides near real-time access to investors looking for opportunities to grow dual-use companies.
- SBIR/STTR and Government Funding Alignment. H4XLabs works hand in hand with government funding and contracting vehicles.
- Advisor and Mentor Network. BMNT has an extensive network of government, business, investment, and university leaders dedicated to helping create new dual-use companies.
H4XLabs provided its inaugural accelerator offering to Learn2Win (L2W), which got its start in the 2019 graduate-level Hacking for Defense® course at Stanford. L2W developed a software prototype to revolutionize training for Air Force fighter pilots. Impressed with their concept demonstrations, the National Security Innovation Network Starts program and the Office of Naval Research awarded L2W initial funding to continue the development of their solution. L2W later secured additional funding from the Air Force through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
Comprised of three graduate students, L2W was new to the complex world of defense contracting. The team needed help deciphering government security procedures, technical requirements, and contracting vehicles among other challenges.
Over the course of the three-month accelerator program, H4XLabs met weekly with L2W to help them:
- Connect with over 10 advisors in the government and commercial space;
- Navigate the nuances of a security accreditation process;
- Understand the structure of their contract to allow for follow-on funding;
- Identify additional sponsors to obtain follow-on funding; and
- Prepare for an additional SBIR award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop training in a different focus area.
Already H4XLabs’ work is growing. Given L2W’s success as a result of its participation in H4XLabs, ONR sponsored twelve awardees from the third 2019 SBIR solicitation to participate in H4XLabs this year. In addition, H4XLabs is partnering with four Norwegian government organizations to guide a cohort of Norwegian startups through the continued development of their solutions to global security challenges.