The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, workforce training, entrepreneurs, startups and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth.
Our program offers a semi-residential 12-week program for second stage businesses. We provide office space, investment, Air Force liaisons, subject matter experts, a collaborative ecosystem and resources necessary to nurture the next level of innovation.
Second Stage Business Accelerator
We have partnered with Boulder SBDC to bring an Economic Gardening based curriculum to each accelerator cohort. The curriculum targets second-stage companies to support Founders with strategic planning and customized market research to overcome market and growth barriers. The program is not a series of instructional courses, but conversations with subject matter experts.
Participating companies are designated an Air Force liaison, a Boulder SBDC entrepreneurial mentor and a Colorado PTAC government contracting mentor who will take the time to ensure your success throughout the program milestones.
“Here is a completely different environment. Maybe it goes with the spirit of Colorado, but I’ve found the spirit is to help rather than to take undue advantage of a company. I read through the history of the set-up [of Catalyst Accelerator] … I would say it’s a rather more humane approach to nurturing companies, rather than trying to make a buck off them.”
-Dr. Tom George, CEO of SaraniaSat via a Colorado Springs Business Journal article
Unique Customer Discovery Opportunity
The accelerator’s mission is to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer from the government to the commercial market and vice versa.
Our program is unique among accelerator programs due to its co-location in Colorado Springs with Air Force Space Command. By locating the accelerator on the Catalyst Campus in proximity to the customer, the customer discovery process is significantly reduced, from an average of two years in the typical government market to less than three months through the Catalyst Accelerator.
“The other thing we found was that calling these guys and saying, “I’m not trying to sell you something,” saying we were involved with the accelerator, involved with the Air Force, kind of gave us credibility with the guys that we were talking to. They understood that we weren’t coming to them trying to sell them something, we were trying to understand their problem and where their issues are.”
Aaron Buckner, Vice President and Chief Engineer of Guidestar Optical Systems
“The biggest thing that we learned was not to pitch our technology but actually to ask intelligent questions and let the customer or user speak about what they think the application would be for in their particular market segment…
I would say we learned a lot more what not to do rather than exactly what to do which has been good in guiding our business canvas.”
At the conclusion of the accelerator program, Space Capital Colorado, a Catalyst-endowed accelerator fund may further invest in any of the accelerator companies if they show potential.
“Previously, we needed to have a large committed customer for our data to get funding to launch our satellites to generate data. I found another segment of customers need real data to commit to using our constellation. With the help of the Catalyst Accelerator, we now have a customer that can invest into launching a satellite to get the data they need. Thus breaking the cycle.”
-Amin Djamshidpour CEO of Koolock