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MassChallenge Partners with NATO DIANA to Drive Innovation in Transatlantic Security, Surveillance and Energy Resilience 

BOSTON, May 9, 2024  — MassChallenge, a renowned global accelerator based in Boston, has announced a strategic partnership with NATO DIANA, the Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic. NATO established this organization to find and accelerate dual-use innovation capacity across the Alliance. As part of the collaboration, MassChallenge and NATO DIANA will convene on May 30, 2024, for a Demo Day in Boston, showcasing the groundbreaking solutions developed through this program.

MassChallenge is one of three implementation partners alongside MIT and Starburst and one of five NATO DIANA accelerator sites. The program offered two tailored curricula targeting both commercial and dual-use-focused startups. Specifically, the Dual-use curriculum incorporated the MIT (a long time partner of MassChallenge) dual-use framework and modified it in consultation with DIANA and its network to serve the needs of the cohort best. By integrating curriculum and leveraging MassChallenge’s extensive accelerator network to cultivate innovative dual-use technologies, the program leaders selected 44 promising startups from a staggering pool of over 1,300 applicants. The inaugural program will focus on three critical challenge areas: Energy Resilience, Secure Information Sharing, and Sensing and Surveillance.

Many participating startup technologies are in the bluetech space, the advanced technology sector of the maritime industry, which MassChallenge has a strong track record of supporting. Specifically addressing the challenges in sensing and surveillance, startups in the program cohort are innovating bluetech for subsurface coastal zones, monitoring and augmenting underwater infrastructure.

For example, startup aRobotics is developing new robots for this purpose, providing a range of services for the exteriors of significant structures (e.g., inspecting, cleaning, and repairing exteriors better, faster, safer, and cheaper than any alternative). Within that same arena, OWL, an IBM-backed company in the cohort, can supply a wireless ad-hoc network to locations impacted by natural disasters with space and underwater applications. Both winners of the NATO DIANA Sensing and Surveillance challenge, aRobotics and OWL, are part of MasChallenge’s successful dual-use engine, where mentorship helps find unconventional solutions to atypical business hurdles.

Hushmesh, another NATO DIANA challenge winner, is creating a safer and more efficient internet. The U.S.-Based startup just raised $5.2M, and with the support of this program, it aims to develop and integrate secure information-sharing technology into the online infrastructure of all NATO member countries.

“We have worked with over 4,000 startups at MassChallenge since we opened our doors during the Great Recession in 2009. Our startups have generated billions in economic value, including in sectors such as transportation, cybersecurity, novel therapeutics, and financial services,” said Cait Brumme, CEO of MassChallenge. “Through our partnership with NATO DIANA, we are accelerating a cohort of technologies that will build a new economic backbone, globally.”

Startups such as aRoboticsOWLHusmesh, and IONATE showcase MassChallenge’s commitment to the concept of dual-use. Dual-use technology, capable of serving both commercial and government purposes, addresses needs across various sectors, including aerospace, biotechnology, defense, energy, healthcare, sustainability, transportation, and more. With NATO DIANA also championing dual-use technologies, a common ethos emerges, daring to challenge the status quo, take risks, and create something new. 

In this dual-use capacity, DIANA is invested in developing and modernizing outdated energy systems worldwide and within its 31 member countries. UK-based tech startup IONATE is a hardware-software company developing the next generation of hybrid intelligence transformers for a more renewable and reliable energy system of the future.

“When we applied for the NATO DIANA program, we specifically asked to be in the Boston accelerator site because MassChallenge has a reputation for being a stepping stone for tech startups who are serious about impact,” said Luca Mezossy-Dona, co-founder and head of strategic engagement at IONATE. “As part of the DIANA program, a key goal for us was to expand our ecosystem from Europe to the East Coast because we see the U.S. as a leader in power system innovation and energy tech in general. Joining MassChallenge’s ambitious and high-caliber network is exactly what we needed.”

About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with eight locations worldwide, it is the non-profit’s mission to help bold entrepreneurs disrupt the status quo and create sustainable change. Since launching in 2009, MassChallenge has run programs in 24 countries, supported more than 4,300 startups from around the world, and awarded over $18M in equity-free cash and prizes. Learn more about MassChallenge at masschallenge.org.

About NATO DIANA

NATO DIANA (Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic) is an organization established by NATO to find and accelerate dual-use innovation capacity across the Alliance. DIANA provides companies with the resources, networks, and guidance to develop deep technologies to solve critical defense and security challenges, from operating in denied environments to tackling threats to our collective resilience.

About NSIN

NSIN is a government program office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OSD(R&E)) that collaborates with major universities and the venture community to develop solutions that drive national security innovation. We operate two portfolios of programs and services: Talent and Venture. Together, these portfolios form a pipeline of activities and solutions hat accelerate the pace of defense innovation.