Catalyst Campus Overflows for AFRL Space Accelerator Demo Day

Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation Hosts Third Demo Day for Catalyst Space Accelerator

Catalyst Campus, Colorado Springs, Colorado – July 2, 2019 – The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Space Vehicle Directorate’s Catalyst Space Accelerator held its third Demo Day on June 27, 2019 at the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs. The seven companies in the Resilient Commercial Space Communications Cohort were granted a unique opportunity to pitch their innovative, disruptive technologies to an overflowing audience of government and corporate strategic investors, Space Communications subject matter experts, and venture capitalists.

The crowd filled the historic Harvey House event center as well as a second large meeting room. After brief opening remarks by Catalyst Campus Executive Director Rich Burchfield, Program Director KiMar Gartman, and Government Lead Lt David Buehler, the beautifully-prepared, smoothly-honed presentations articulated each company’s mission, vision and technology for the largest audience to date for a Catalyst Space Accelerator Demo Day.

Cohort and Programming
In selecting this cohort, the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate and the Catalyst Space Accelerator were looking for non-traditional companies that could contribute to a suite of options to augment, supplement, backup, complement, and/or improve current space communication capabilities. Participating companies received seed funding from Space Capital Colorado, a Catalyst-endowed accelerator fund, as well as direct access to operational experts and stakeholders from the United States Air Force and other government agencies, and from the Catalyst Campus, SBDC TechSource and PTAC national network of mentors, partners and investors.

Catalyst Space Accelerator offers a robust program of workshops, customer discovery, and networking events. The Customer Discovery process allows participants to gain a better understanding of the commercial market and customers, the warfighter needs and the DoD market, and the DoD acquisition processes. Companies are assigned Air Force Sherpas to help them make military connections, while Commercial Sherpas help with commercial contacts. The programming includes hours of “pitch practice” under the expert guidance of the Accelerator’s partner, SBDC TechSource, which was evident as the presentations began.

OPTERUS RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT, Loveland, Colorado

The first presentation was a pre-recorded video by Dr. Tom Murphey, CEO and Founder of Opterus. Opterus gives small spacecraft the performance of big spacecraft through rapid innovations in deployable and unfolding structures ranging from high precision, frequency and gain parabolic RF reflectors to extremely large area antennas, solar sails, and sun shades.

Dr. Murphey explained that Opterus pioneered High Strain Composites (HSC) and is the industry’s leading innovator in developing new HSC materials, structures, and low-cost manufacturing technologies. Opterus’ HSCs achieve bending strains 2x greater than previously used materials enabling 8x greater deployment forces with 5x greater mass efficiency and 20x greater dimensional stability. Opterus leverages these two technologies to develop exceptionally high performance and dimensionally stable deployable structures. (www.opterusrd.com)

OMNISPACE, Tysons, Virginia

The next presentation was given by Campbell Marshall, Vice President of International Market Development of Omnispace. Omnispace owns/operates a global, non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system harnessing 60Mhz of globally harmonized S-band spectrum and a network of worldwide ground stations. Mr. Marshall discussed how the Omnispace pole-to-pole communications system permits seamless transitions between urban, rural and maritime domains. They use Ancillary Terrestrial Component technology to leverage their 2 GHz spectrum, which sits adjacent to global LTE cellular frequencies. This enables mobile and IoT devices to move seamlessly between existing terrestrial cellular networks and Omnispace’s NGSO satellite constellation.

The audience learned that, for the military, the Omnispace network provides a spectrally efficient, scalable, low-latency, global communications platform, bringing mobile connectivity beyond the limits of cellular coverage between all domains. Commercially, Omnispace brings reliable mobile connectivity to the fields of transportation and logistics, energy, public safety, health, and agriculture.  (www.omnispace.com)

XENESIS, Chicago, Illinois
Xenesis’ Founder and CEO, Mark LaPenna, followed with a presentation about Xenesis, which represents to spectrum what broadband represented to dial-up 30 years ago. He discussed Xen-HubTM, a compact, reduced-complexity, low-cost laser communications transceiver for downlinking data from Earth-orbiting spacecraft, point-to-point communications and private networking.

Working together with NASA, JPL, CalTech, Georgia Tech, Atlas Space Operations and Laser Light Communications, Xenesis is positioned to solve the New Space satellite communications problem by offering low cost & high bandwidth Space-to-Ground optical data transport. The technology has numerous applications and the presentation fully supported the claim on the Xenesis website that they “control the most cutting-edge NASA Space-to-Ground communications technology.” (www.xenesis.io)

ANALYTICAL SPACE, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Gil Valdes, Business Development Lead, presented for Analytical Space, Inc. (ASI). ASI is a satellite communications company that leverages hybrid RF-laser communications technology. They are launching a satellite relay network that will provide the first secure, reliable, high-speed data connection for Earth observation satellites. By uploading to this network, satellite operators will have access to more of their data more quickly, all while using their existing hardware.

The process is very simple: client satellites collect data, then offload it to ASI relays using RF. ASI crosslinks the client data between relays in orbit, then downlinks it using RF and laser. The data relays are backwards compatible across a wide range of radio frequencies, have extremely high throughput, and very low latency that decreases with each relay satellite added to the network. The many commercial and military applications include asset tracking, hyperspectral imaging, and weather forecasting. (www.analyticalspace.com)

ATLAS Space Operations, Traverse City, Michigan
Ryan Clulo, FreedomTM Software Engineer, presented ATLAS Space Operations’ global communication and data services that leverage cloud-based intelligence to lower cost and deliver simple, secure, and scalable value-added solutions. He described how ATLAS’ cloud-based FreedomTM software interconnects and powers their globally expansive network of 31 operational and planned ground antennas with secure access to data to and from space, with a high data flow and low latency.

The features of their services include secure access to any space or ground asset through a single VPN entry point; scalability, so clients can transmit, receive and store data for a single spacecraft or mega constellations; and data and analytics with dozens of metrics every two seconds per pass. (www.atlasground.com)

SKYLOOM, Berkeley, California
Santiago Tempone, co-founder and CTO of Skyloom, discussed Skyloom’s development of a spaceborne optical data transfer network leveraging small geostationary relay satellites to provide 24×7 high capacity communications services for low Earth orbit constellations, whether observing or communicating with the planet. This infrastructure allows Skyloom’s customers to move massive amounts of information immediately, allowing for real-time insights and applications.

Skyloom eliminates the data transfer bottleneck caused by the current low data rates for radio-based links for smallsats, the limited contact satellites currently have with ground stations, and by the enormous amounts of expensive power required to transmit. Their solution’s unique architecture and infrastructure allow them to offer high capacity, immediacy and flexibility in data plans to LEO constellations. (www.skyloom.co)

SPEQTRAL QUANTUM TECHNOLOGIES (SQT), Denver, Colorado
SQT, Speqtral Quantum Technologies, was represented by CEO David Mitlyng, who started off dramatically by saying, “We deliver a magic box that provides an unspoofable, unhackable link for your secure network. We are the only company outside of China with a space-qualified entangled photon source: i.e., a magic box.”

Mr. Mitlyng went on to explain the intricacies of quantum communications, including photon entanglement and its applications to space communications, focusing on Quantum Key Distribution and secure Quantum Clock Synchronization. The former is a more secure form of encryption, that thwarts eavesdropping and spoofing, as opposed to public key encryption – which is much more vulnerable to advances in computing – or couriers, who bring their own security problems and inconveniences. Quantum Clock Synchronization allows for unspoofable time transfer for PNT and has precise accuracy to within <100 picoseconds.

To illustrate the power of quantum technologies, Mr. Mitlyng quoted Dr. Krysta Svore, of Microsoft Research: “The RSA-2048 Challenge Problem would take 1 billion years with a classical computer. A quantum computer could do it in 100 seconds.” (www.linkedin.com/company/speqtral-quantum-technologies/)

Reaction
Silently fascinated, the audience seemed deeply interested in each space communications technology as it was explained. As Accelerator Government Lead Lt Buehler observed, “The companies absolutely nailed their pitches and many of the guests I spoke with said that they enjoyed the event and were blown away by the technology presented.”

Ryan Clulo of ATLAS Space Operations, who was a presenter, was very enthusiastic about both Demo Day and the entire program: “I thought today’s presentation was great. I was very appreciative to the SBDC [Accelerator partner the Small Business Development Center] for helping me develop that pitch. The Accelerator has been a great experience for me; it is certainly a huge jumpstart to get this kind of business experience as an engineer, so I have been honored to participate. As engineers we talk at a high level about what ground systems need to do, and we think we have an innovative idea, but to come out here and to see what other companies are doing – well, it’s been a lot of fun for me personally, and has been a great experience for the company.”

The Honorable Sue Payton, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisitions, enjoyed a front-row seat. Afterwards, she said she was interested in “the synergy that you could see across all these companies, especially after they have worked together. And with a systems engineer like Lt Buehler showing us the OV-1 [High Level Operational Concept Graphic] of how all these systems came together – that was brilliant.”

Heidi Wright, General Manager of Technical Marketing at Braxton Technologies and a member of a previous cohort, commented that “being on the audience-side of Demo Day was very different than being on the cohort-side. Knowing all the hard work that these companies have put in prior to this culmination, I have an immense respect for them and their dedication to changing the way space communications is done going forward.”

Sponsorships and Sherpas

Companies can champion the Accelerator program through various levels of sponsorship. Sponsors are acknowledged on our website, social media, and throughout the community.

Catalyst Space Accelerator and the Resilient Commercial Space Communications Cohort are very grateful to generous Demo Day sponsors Harris Corporation and BBVA.

Catalyst Space Accelerator is also grateful to the Commercial Sherpas, who gave their time to assist the cohort. The Sherpas were from Viasat, Microsoft, Deloitte, SEAKR Engineering and LinQuest. The Accelerator is always seeking Commercial Sherpas to assist with future cohorts; please visit https://catalystaccelerator.space/partners/.

 

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a Space-focused defense and national security industry accelerator. Headquartered on the Catalyst Campus, a collaborative ecosystem in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Catalyst Space Accelerator is a public-private partnership hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI), the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) TechSource, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams. https://catalystaccelerator.space

 

Catalyst Space Accelerator Alumni Achieving Great Heights

CSA’s Two Initial Cohorts Continue to Scoop Up SBIRs and Contracts

Colorado Springs, Colo – May 28, 2019 – At Catalyst Space Accelerator, our alumni companies are central to our ever-growing network of outstanding commercial partners, and we are always excited when they build upon the successes achieved during their time at the Space Accelerator. Right now, several alumni companies have some great news to report:

Echo Ridge LLC of Sterling, Virginia, which participated in our Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cohort in 2018 (https://www.echoridgenet.com/), focuses on wireless applications such as communications systems, position/navigation/timing, electronic warfare and modeling/simulation/test. President Joe Kennedy is proud to announce that Echo Ridge was selected for not just one, but two different Small Business Innovation Research grants (SBIR):

Echo Ridge was selected for a Phase II SBIR (AF182-002 F2-10745) for their work in Innovative Positioning, Navigation & Timing (IPNT). Phase I of this SBIR was the basis for Echo Ridge’s participation in the PNT Cohort of the Catalyst Space Accelerator and created a detailed plan for a trial implementation of their proposed solution. The Phase II SBIR seeks to expand the addressable (DoD and Commercial) market segments by providing test and demonstration opportunities for prospective customers.

Echo Ridge has also been awarded a Phase I SBIR from AFWERX (https://www.afwerx.af.mil/) in association with their IPNT work. They qualified to compete for this SBIR based on their participation in the Catalyst Campus accelerator. With this SBIR, Echo Ridge will conduct a feasibility study towards providing a comprehensive tactical-edge electromagnetic environment (EME) situational awareness (SA) capability that includes PNT and blue comms “weather”, red/gray activity, blue/red/gray proximity, alt nav, etc., in a military-suitable form factor for size, weight & power (SWaP)-constrained platforms.

Gareth Block is CEO of Third Insight of Austin, Texas, which also participated in the PNT Cohort late last year. Third Insight builds software that enables “Thinking Drones.” Third Insight’s HALO platform provides vision-based navigation for UAVs and drones and for its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance analytics tools, enabling drones to perform a variety of autonomous tasks indoors and outdoors without requiring GPS for positioning.

Dr. Block reports that since completing the Catalyst Space Accelerator in December 2018, five short months ago, the company, impressively, has won two SBIRs and a government contract:

  • Third Insight won a US Air Force (USAF) Phase II SBIR focused on building and deploying their autonomous navigation platform for UAVs for the purpose of automated aircraft inspection
  • They won a USAF Phase I SBIR with AFWERX (https://www.afwerx.af.mil/) focused on customer discovery for use cases related to their computer vision analytics and machine learning product line
  • They won their third contract with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test and expand their core autonomous navigation platform for First Responders

SaraniaSat of Los Angeles, California was one of several stand-outs among the Catalyst Space Accelerator’s inaugural cohort, the Terrestrial Weather Cohort, in early 2018. Their participation in the Space Accelerator was followed shortly with becoming subcontractor to a $5.1 million NASA InVEST contract. SaraniaSat was originally founded by former NASA scientist Dr. Tom George to address a Grand Challenge facing the agricultural industry, to break through the “logjam” blocking widespread acceptance of satellite remote-sensing data and information products by the industry. Since participating in the Catalyst Space Accelerator, SaraniaSat has greatly expanded interest in their remote-sensing technologies among both government and commercial entities.

Since we last heard from him, Dr. George is pleased to announce that SaraniaSat has won another SBIR award in this latest round. It was in response to the Airforce SBIR topic AF191-006 “6U CubeSat EO/IR Solutions for Operational Weather Demo” (https://www.sbir.gov/sbirsearch/detail/1531771). Their proposal was entitled “CLOUD 6” for satellite-based cloud characterization.

Guidestar Optical Systems of Longmont, Colorado also joined Catalyst Space Accelerator for the Terrestrial Weather Cohort. Chief Engineer Dr. Aaron Buckner is now happy to report that a bare week ago, Guidestar was selected to participate in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program with an award of $249,961. According to Dr. Buckner, “Our participation in the Catalyst Accelerator was a major contributor to Guidestar’s ability to secure this award.”

Guidestar’s adaptive optics technology addresses the ground-to-space optical communications needs of companies, enabling them to transmit large amounts of data more quickly, reducing latency of data availability to ground-based operations, and circumventing challenges in obtaining RF spectrum permits required for data transmission relying on slower radio transmission of data. Guidestar’s technology also addresses the backhaul network connectivity challenge in terrestrial 5G networks.

Catalyst Space Accelerator’s Program Director KiMar Gartman feels “It’s immensely satisfying to see the companies grow from where they were in the Accelerator to now as they are scaling their businesses and helping to solve some of our most difficult technical challenges.”

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About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a Space-focused defense and national security industry accelerator. Headquartered on the Catalyst Campus, a collaborative ecosystem in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Catalyst Space Accelerator is a public-private partnership hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI), the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) TechSource, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams. https://catalystaccelerator.space

 

Space Invades Colorado Springs: Catalyst Campus & C-TRAC Respond

Campus Open House Hosts Dr. Will Roper,  Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; Space Symposium Booth Features Campus Virtual Reality Tours; Catalyst Space Accelerator Kicks Off Third Cohort; Catalyst Campus Set to Expand

Colorado Springs, Colo – April 25, 2019 – A busy two weeks of Space-related activities filled Catalyst Campus, including an Open House supported by the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI) & the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC) and crowned by an exciting and successful visit from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Scheduled to coincide with the 35th Space Symposium, where CCTI and C-TRAC hosted a booth, activities on the Campus ranged from a catered Open House, with tours of facilities normally closed to the public, to the capstone, Dr. Roper’s visit, which proved so captivating it lasted an hour longer than originally planned. The nationally acclaimed Catalyst Space Accelerator also kicked off its third cohort in concert with these events, including sending the cohort to do some intense networking at the Space Symposium as part of the Accelerator’s programming. Finally, Catalyst Campus set the stage for its next phase of growth by announcing an impressively large expansion to the Campus facilities.

Catalyst Campus Open House

The second annual Catalyst Campus Open House was held Wednesday, April 10, luring Space Symposium attendees with tours of Campus aerospace activities, exhibits by academia, industry and government partners and tenants, and overflowing complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Despite a weather forecast that included the words “bomb cyclone,” Catalyst Campus Executive Director Rich Burchfield was pleased by the attendance: “To me, our focus on high quality engagement was really important. In addition to the great visitors, I’m really proud of our new relationship with the Upper Arkansas River Valley Technology Partnership, who had a booth this year, folks down in Canon City who are bringing high tech to the rural areas. They see great value in being teamed up with Catalyst Campus.”

Space Symposium Booth

The 35th Space Symposium, held each year in The Broadmoor Hotel by the Space Foundation, is considered to be the premier gathering of space professionals in the world. The CCTI and C-TRAC booth was notable for its Virtual Reality Catalyst Campus Tours, whereby visitors could watch an information-filled wild ride through the Campus while wearing a VR headset. Startling in its 3D tangibility, the virtual reality tours were both great fun and an excellent way to “showcase this beautiful campus,” according to Rich Burchfield, as well as an introduction to the many teaming possibilities inherent to the collaborative ecosystem Catalyst Campus is continuously growing.

Assistant Secretary for the Air Force Visits

The high point of Space Symposium week was a much-anticipated visit from Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. During a revelatory tour of the Campus, Rich Burchfield reports that Dr. Roper turned to Catalyst Campus’ visionary founder, Colorado Springs developer Kevin O’Neil, and said, “I had no idea how mature Catalyst Campus was.” Greatly interested in the innovative work being done by Catalyst Campus’ two non-profits – Catalyst Campus for Innovation and Technology (CCTI) and the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC) – for various Air Force programs designed to bring technology to the warfighter faster, Dr. Roper was quoted a few days later in the article “A New Century Series? Will Roper Takes Air Force Back to the Future” praising the innovations represented by the Space CAMP program he toured on Catalyst Campus[1].

When asked about the visit, Campus Executive Director Rich Burchfield waxed eloquent: “It was a wonderful opportunity to get to spend quality time with Dr. Roper to see how invested he is in the acquisition community. It was very rewarding to see his appreciation and understanding of how mature the Campus is, both physically and in the programs we are a part of, and for him to see the value of what we bring to the warfighting community, including our ability to draw in the non-traditional businesses and other commercial entities needed to speed up innovation.”

Catalyst Space Accelerator Kick-Off

Dr. Roper’s visit ended with a Fireside Chat that included the Catalyst Space Accelerator’s current and former participants, as well as some members of the advocacy group SmallSat Alliance (http://smallsatalliance.org/). Featuring an informal talk from Dr. Roper, this Fireside Chat was an unexpected privilege extended to the current, third cohort, which kicked off on Tuesday, April 9.  Focused on Resilient Commercial Space Communications, the third cohort has already learned about a wide array of topics, meeting with various Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) as well as both their Air Force Sherpas and their Commercial Sherpas. Another exciting highlight for the new cohort was the opportunity for a long visit to the Space Symposium.

According to Program Director KiMar Gartman, “The Catalyst Space Accelerator team is excited to welcome these companies, who bring amazing innovative technology to the Accelerator and ultimately to DoD and the warfighter.  Our community is rallying around to help them succeed in every way.”

Catalyst Campus Expansion

Kevin O’Neil, CEO of The O’Neil Group, and Catalyst Campus founder and owner, announced early last week that Catalyst Campus will be adding the neighboring structure, 545 E. Pikes Peak Ave., to its footprint, as well as constructing two new buildings: a mixed use structure that will include offices, restaurants and housing, and an office building, thus almost doubling the Campus to 250,000 square feet. Joining the Campus’ collaborative ecosystem is a high priority for many companies, agencies and organizations, so the current demand for offices has long outstripped supply. Housing and restaurants are envisioned to support and bolster Catalyst Campus’ future plans, as well as current programs, some of which have residential components.[2] This large expansion is a solid expression of Mr. O’Neil’s strong commitment to growing the Campus ecosystem while supporting Colorado/Front Range economic development.

[1] https://breakingdefense.com/2019/04/a-new-century-series-will-roper-takes-air-force-back-to-the-future/

[2] https://gazette.com/business/colorado-springs-space-focus-office-park-doubling-its-size/article_bb203fba-5b1b-11e9-b955-5b642c767ca6.html

About Catalyst Campus

Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI) is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, Academia and venture capital intersect with aerospace and defense industries to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Located in downtown Colorado Springs, Catalyst Campus provides a neutral environment where the Department of Defense can engage with organizations and technologies from multiple companies as needs and threats emerge in various sectors: aerospace, defense and homeland security, cybersecurity, information technology and other advanced technologies. CCTI is a 501 (C)(3) non-profit.

About C-TRAC

The Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves our customers by bringing together the latest technologies from government, education, and industry partners. C-TRAC creates relationships that provide the government customer with rapid development, cutting-edge technology and capabilities that ensure our warfighters achieve and maintain superiority.

Air Force Research Laboratory and Catalyst Space Accelerator Announce Third Cohort

Problem Statement Focuses on Resilient Commercial Space Communications

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — March 27, 2019 — Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate and Catalyst Space Accelerator have announced the selection of the Accelerator’s third space technology cohort, this one with a focus on Resilient Commercial Space Communications. The semi-residential, 12-week, cohort-based Catalyst Space Accelerator program is hosted by Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) at Catalyst Campus in downtown Colorado Springs and includes seed investment by Space Capital Colorado, network connections, mentorship, workshops, and opportunities for future investment and growth.

Catalyst Space Accelerator’s mission is to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer from the commercial market to the government and vice versa. The Air Force is currently looking for a suite of options to augment, supplement, backup, complement, and or improve current space communications capabilities from the Resilient Commercial Space Communications cohort.

The third cohort’s Kick-off, when the selected companies finally meet formally, will take place April 9, 2019. Kick-off has been timed to coincide with the 35th Space Symposium, the yearly “must attend” space industry event. Accelerator participants will even have the opportunity to visit and network at the Symposium as part of the Catalyst Space Accelerator program.

Participants in Catalyst Space Accelerator also gain access to the extensive network of connections radiating from the Catalyst Campus’ collaborative ecosystem, a mixture of academia, aerospace industry, government entities, entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups, and venture capitalists. This ecosystem enhances one of the great advantages to the Accelerator’s location on Catalyst Campus in downtown Colorado Springs: the accelerated Customer Discovery process. Located in immediate proximity to Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and other government customers, Catalyst Space Accelerator reduces the typical customer discovery time from six months to a few weeks.

Always innovating forward, Catalyst Space Accelerator has gone beyond ensuring the third cohort has the fullest access to government Sherpas; this session will also include a Commercial Sherpa program for an expanded Customer Discovery experience. Commercial Sherpa companies are well-connected commercial companies that operate within the theme area of the Accelerator and are willing to dedicate at least 12 hours of their time to each of their adoptive cohort companies while working around the cohort’s individual schedules. NDAs are always put in place to protect each company’s intellectual property.

The Catalyst Space Accelerator team is excited to announce that the following seven companies were selected for the third Catalyst Space Accelerator cohort, all of them focused on Resilient Commercial Space Communications technologies:

Analytical Space Inc. (ASI) is a satellite communications company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 2016, ASI is launching a satellite data relay network that provides a secure, reliable, high-speed data connection. By uploading to the network, satellite operators will have access to more of their data in a reduced timeframe, all while using their existing hardware. ASI leverages hybrid RF-laser communications technology.

https://www.analyticalspace.com


ATLAS Space Operations of Traverse City, Michigan is a global communications provider for spacecraft and launch vehicles dedicated to convenient and affordable TT&C and data access. The ATLAS FREEDOM™ Software Platform is a proprietary, cloud-based software service providing a scalable, flexible, and resilient communication framework. Freedom’s key features include the Flex Scheduler, customizable cloud apps delivering powerful automation, and access through an intuitive API and user interface. ATLAS operates a network of ground antenna designed to provide low latency connectivity through geospatial diversity without increasing costs to the customer.

https://www.atlasground.com


Omnispace of McLean, Virginia owns/operates a global, non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) satellite system harnessing 60Mhz of globally harmonized S-band spectrum and a network of worldwide groundstations. Our ground-breaking next generation constellation and hybrid connectivity model will connect people and things faster and more efficiently, from urban centers to rural fields to oceans at the top of the world. Omnispace looks forward to making its all-weather global communications capability available to the U.S. and her allies within our commercially-focused model in support of a more resilient, diversified communications portfolio. We also seek to innovate new partnerships between commercial NGSO constellations and government stakeholders.

https://omnispace.com


Opterus Research & Development, located in Loveland, Colorado, gives small spacecraft the performance of big spacecraft through rapid innovations in deployable and unfolding structures. Our revolutionizing technology, pioneered by Opterus’ founder, is rapidly transitioning the industry from bulky mechanisms to miniaturized high strain composite structures. Opterus technologies were successfully flown on eight units in 2018. Our new deployable solid surface parabolic reflector antenna technology is poised to dramatically change small spacecraft communications: we are developing the industry’s first low cost high gain reflector antennas that compactly package for small satellites.

https://opterusrd.com


Skyloom of Berkley, California is developing a spaceborne telecommunications network infrastructure with Tb/s data transfer capacity relying on very high speeds and channel availability by using optical communication technology and small relay satellites placed in geostationary orbit. Optical links are the future of spaceborne communications, allowing unprecedented performance at reduced costs (mass, power, and size) at the expense of high accuracy beam pointing. Moreover, RF spectrum regulations do not apply to optical links. Our mission is to unlock the true economic potential of Low Earth Orbit by providing unprecedented spaceborne communication services to Earth-observation, Internet of Things, and broadband internet satellite constellations.

https://www.skyloom.co


Spectral Quantum Technologies of Denver, Colorado is the only startup with space-proven quantum communications hardware that is compact enough to fit on a CubeSat. This system utilizes the unique properties of quantum physics to guarantee against eavesdroppers. SQT is committed to bringing this secure and resilient technology to the US defense and warfighter community.

https://s15.space


Xenesis of Lisle, Illinois, in partnership with NASA/JPL/Georgia Tech Research Corporation, is co-developing a commercial grade 10Gbs Laser Optical Transceiver named the “Xen-Hub.” This novel technology is the exclusive hardware utilized within a Global Multi-Layered Mesh Network, called the “Empower Space Alliance.”  With this technology, Xenesis and its partners will deliver an end-to-end solution capable of 33Tbs through-put, in a secure and fully autonomous asset management platform. This global network is self-provisioned, employs best-of-breed security protocols and mitigates atmospheric interference via spatial diversity on the ground. Xenesis is launching its On-orbit demonstration in Q2 2020 and will be fully operational in Q4 2020, with commercial grade comms services in Q4 2021. Xenesis thoroughly understands the resiliency & disaggregation Space architectures mandate, issued in 2016. Based on this, Xenesis is prepared to address your needs, as well as anticipate future requirements.

http://xenesis.io


About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI), the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) TechSource, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams. https://catalystaccelerator.space

For more information:
Catalyst Space Accelerator Media Relations, Ms. KiMar Gartman, kimar.gartman@c-trac.org, 719-394-0605

Catalyst Space Accelerator Hosts 130+ Attendees for Demo Day at Catalyst Campus

Investors, Military and Subject Matter Experts Gather to View Leading-Edge Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Technologies

Colorado Springs, Colo. – December 20, 2018 – The Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicle Directorate’s Catalyst Space Accelerator held their big Demo Day on December 13, 2018 at the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation, the climax of three months of hard work for the Accelerator’s second cohort of eight companies. The historic Harvey House event center was at capacity and overflowed into a second large meeting space, with 130+ government and corporate strategic investors, Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) subject matter experts, and venture capitalists in attendance as each company pitched their disruptive PNT technology.

The focus of the intensive 12-week program was to find innovative, non-defense, commercial solutions in Positioning, Navigation and Timing that could be creatively adapted to meet Department of Defense stakeholders’ needs in a short timeframe and at a low cost. Participating companies received direct access to operational PNT experts and stakeholders from the United States Air Force and other government agencies, as well as from the Catalyst Campus, SBDC and PTAC national network of mentors, partners and investors.

Each company was selected by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate using the new Special Topics SBIRs (Small Business Innovation Research awards) as the application mechanism for entry, with $50,000 in non-dilutive funding for each company chosen. This new fast-funding mechanism meant awards occurred within 60 days of application, as part of the Air Force’s commitment to acquiring new technologies rapidly.

The opening remarks by Program Director KiMar Gartman included a grateful shout-out to Catalyst Space Accelerator’s very generous sponsor: SAIC® — Science Applications International Corporation — a technology integrator, primarily supporting the government services market, providing technology and engineering solutions, specializing in information technology, platform integration, training and simulation, intelligence, and mission expertise.

2nd Lt Zoe Casteel, Air Force Program Manager for the Accelerator, enthused, “We were excited to have record attendance at this Catalyst Accelerator PNT Demo Day! It shows the support this community offers to not only cutting-edge PNT technologies, but to innovation in the Air Force and the benefits it has for warfighters.”

The Catalyst Space Accelerator team was also thrilled to welcome several returning alumni from the inaugural cohort, who came to support Demo Day as a result of their positive experiences during their time at the program. One alumnus, Rob Lancaster, CEO and Chief Scientist of Adaptive Systems LLC in Colorado Springs, was enthusiastic and said the event was “extremely enlightening!” He said he had a great time at the event, from the fascinating presentations to the many deep conversations he had during the networking Happy Hour and Lunch.

The high point of the day was during the presentations themselves, as the eight companies in Catalyst Space Accelerator’s PNT cohort brought their technologies to life for the crowd. Finely-honed eight-minute presentations and pitches, created under the tutelage of curriculum-provider SBDC-Boulder and their partners, provided brief yet cogent discussions of their technology, with special emphasis on the “why” – why should the world be interested? This question was answered repeatedly and persuasively throughout.

The eight companies and their technologies were presented as follows:
Dr. Cantwell Carson, Chief Scientist, and Andrew Portune, Director of Research and Development for Cyber Physical Technologies for Nokomis, Inc., Charleroi, PA, presented SITH – Satellite Identification, Tracking and Health – a network consisting of small, internet-enabled, low-cost RF receivers designed to direct satellite transmissions. By analyzing the satellite transmissions received from different nodes, the SITH network determines satellite position and health status. This allows users to augment their existing Space Situational Awareness (SSA) capabilities and sensor networks by providing visibility wherever in the world the user needs it.

Danny Stirtz, Executive Vice President, and Lars Weimer, President and CEO of esc Aerospace, Orlando, FL, presented escPNTTM – Resilient Positioning, Navigation and Timing – which provides an affordable, compact, lightweight, low-power solution to centimeter-accurate positioning applicable across multiple markets and mission/business needs. Its tightly-coupled multi-sensor data fusion enables resiliency, accuracy and reliability.

Markus Novak, President of Novaa Ltd, Columbus, OH, presented Anti-Jam, Anti-Spoof, and Multipath-Resilient GPS, an in-place antenna upgrade providing protected access to GPS in challenging and contested environments. By providing secure and accurate reception of GPS satellite signals while rejecting external sources of interference, Novaa’s antenna platform allows existing receivers to have impervious access to GPS signals while suppressing unwanted jamming, spoofing and multipath.

Gareth Block, CEO of Third Insight, Austin, TX, presented HALO, a platform that uses computer vision-based “spatial reasoning” to provide resilient PNT to drones, satellites, and mobile devices in GPS-denied environments. HALO delivers real-time 3-D mapping, centimeter-scale positioning, powerful edge computing and semantic labeling of the environment to enable vehicles to operate autonomously indoors, underground, in cluttered spaces or outer space, reflecting. the intent of the operator.

Gary Green, Senior PNT Engineer of PreTalen Ltd, Beavercreek, OH, presented DIGITALSTM, which enables operationally responsive and agile PNT space through a small and very inexpensive payload through dynamic user-defined waveforms, frequencies, and powers. It is also directly applicable to congested, urban, and indoor navigation applications, and generates and transmits GNSS and alternate-navigation signals anywhere within 1 to 2+ GHz.

Joe Kennedy, President of Echo Ridge, LLC, Sterling, VA, presented their Augmented Positioning System (APS) , for assured PNT where GPS is denied or unreliable. APS is one of a family of software applications designed to run on the Echo Ridge ER310 SDR handheld radio platform that supports a wide range of challenging missions. A solution to jammed and spoofed GPS signals, Echo Ridge’s Signal-of-Opportunity (SoOP) locating technology uses available terrestrial and non-GNSS satellite RF signals for accurate, reliable PNT indoors and out.

Heidi Wright, Director of Technical Marketing at Braxton Technologies LLC, Colorado Springs, CO, presented FlashMAPTM, Braxton’s Flash Mob Agile PNT architecture, designed to aid the tactical warfighter in GPS-denied environments. A play on the social media “flash mob” concept, FlashMAPTM provides access to PNT information in GPS-degraded or –denied environments through an open source messaging standard so any PNT device can provide information to any other PNT device using the common architecture.

Jayson Denney, Government and Commercial Program Manager of Cold Quanta, Boulder, CO, presented their Rugged Atomic Timekeeper, which integrates into individual nodes of a networked system where it supplies a local reference signal. Once synchronized, the individual nodes (land, sea, air) remain synchronized for multiple days in dynamic environments. A sample of rubidium atoms are laser-cooled to isolate them from the surrounding environment, where they provide a frequency reference to a stabilized oscillator.

In addition to ushering the second cohort on to the next stage of their evolution, Catalyst Space Accelerator is recruiting for their third cohort, seeking established startups and small businesses with commercial solutions to expand, enhance, reinforce, and improve current space communications capabilities. Current Air Force and DoD space communication challenges include but are not limited to robust and cybersecure communications networking solutions, interoperability among existing communications solutions, jam-resistant technology, band exploitation, and solutions for low-likelihood of interception and detection. Proposed applicant technologies may be ground-based or space-borne and can involve some combination of hardware devices, software, data products, algorithms, or services. To apply, go to www.catalystaccelerator.space, or reach out to Program Director KiMar Gartman at KiMar.Gartman@c-trac.org.

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Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Space Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth.

Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus, Space Capital Colorado and the Colorado Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory, to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

Air Force Research Laboratory and Catalyst Accelerator Announce Applications Are Open for Space Communications Cohort

Catalyst Accelerator seeks commercially viable startups and small businesses with dual-use space communication technology solutions for third accelerator cohort

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — December 4, 2018 — The Catalyst Accelerator announced it will launch the third space technology cohort focused on innovative space communications in April 2019. The semi-residential, 12-week, cohort-based Catalyst Accelerator program is hosted by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate at Catalyst Campus and includes seed investment, network connections, mentorship, workshops, and opportunities for future investment and growth. The accelerator’s mission is to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and guide technology transfer from the commercial market to the government and vice versa.

Catalyst Accelerator is seeking established startups and small businesses with commercial solutions to expand, enhance, reinforce, and improve current space communication capabilities. The U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) are interested in emerging space assets to integrate into a resilient multi-domain network rather than creating stove-piped solutions for space communications. Current Air Force and DoD space communication challenges include but are not limited to robust and cybersecure communications networking solutions, interoperability among existing communications solutions, jam-resistant technology, band exploitation, and solutions for low-likelihood of interception and detection. Proposed applicant technologies may be ground-based or space-borne and can involve some combination of hardware devices, software, data products, algorithms, or services.

Catalyst Accelerator participants will receive immediate capital of $15,000 from Space Capital Colorado, a Catalyst-endowed accelerator fund. Space Capital Colorado may further invest in any of the accelerator companies if they show potential. The program will culminate with a demonstration day at Catalyst Campus in June when each team will pitch to government and commercial investors for an opportunity to raise additional capital or follow-on government funding for further technology development.

The Catalyst Accelerator is open for applications now through January 30, 2019. The Space Communications cohort will kick off in April 2019 with a 12-week semi-residential curriculum and concludes with a final demo day at the end of June 2019. Interested applicants can learn more about the program and apply to the Catalyst Accelerator here: apply now

Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Catalyst Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by the Center for Technology, Research, and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Catalyst Campus, Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

For more information:
Catalyst Accelerator Media Relations
Ms. KiMar Gartman
kimar.gartman@c-trac.org
719-394-0605

Catalyst Space Accelerator Wins Colorado Business Roundtable Award

Champions in Industry Aerospace Award Presented to Accelerator Team

December 3, 2018 – Colorado Springs, Colo. – The Catalyst Space Accelerator Team – consisting of Air Force Research Lab Space (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate, Catalyst Campus LLC, Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC), the Boulder Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) – is thrilled to announce that the Catalyst Space Accelerator has won the Colorado Business Roundtable Champions in Industry Award in the Aerospace category.

The Catalyst Accelerator is a defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 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 while providing a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.

The Colorado Business Roundtable defines a champion as “an individual or organization that works with vision, resiliency, and innovation to resolve issues within the community of Denver and the surrounding communities of Colorado.” [1]  According to the Colorado Business Roundtable, the Aerospace category represents “a critical part of the US economy, supporting effective national security and inspiring global cooperation as humanity explores the frontier of the cosmos. Colorado is a national leader with the highest number of aerospace jobs per capita of any US state.”[2]  Catalyst Space Accelerator operates at the leading edge of aerospace research, bolstering the local aerospace industry.

According to KiMar Gartman, Program Director, “It was a wonderful surprise to hear our name called out as the recipients of the Champions in Industry award for Aerospace.  We were up against some amazing organizations that we hope to collaborate with in the future.  Great innovation is happening in the realm of aerospace, and we are excited to facilitate collaboration between private and public sectors in order to get this innovation in the hands of the warfighter.  Great thanks to Dr. Becca Decker, the previous Program Director for Catalyst Campus, AFRL Program Managers Cpt Jake Singleton and Lt Zoe Casteel, and the Small Business Development Center for making the Catalyst Space Accelerator the success that it is.”

Megen Schlesinger, Managing Director of C-TRAC, was equally excited: “This recognition speaks volumes about the impact that the Catalyst Accelerator is having on small businesses and on advancing aerospace technologies.  To bring emergent technologies, connect them to potential customers and interested stakeholders, and thus shape the landscape of this industry is a win for everyone; small businesses get the insight they need for a competitive advantage and our government and commercial stakeholders get technologies that actually meet their needs. This award is an incredible honor that recognizes our contributions to technology innovation and advancement and wouldn’t have been possible without our community of employees, stakeholders, and incredible participant companies.”

Accelerator Team member C-TRAC was also a nominated as a finalist in the Government category for their extensive programming conducted in collaboration with multiple Air Force customers and on behalf of the warfighter.

The Catalyst Space Accelerator Team consists of:

Air Force Research Lab Space (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate – With an office on the Catalyst Campus and headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., the Space Vehicles Directorate helps serves as the Air Force’s “Center of Excellence” for space technology research and development.

Catalyst Campus LLC – The Accelerator is housed in downtown Colorado Springs at Catalyst Campus, whose collaborative ecosystem is 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.

Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC) – A 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization that bolsters the economy by bringing together government, education and industry partners to meet defense needs at market speed, C-TRAC works with private industry, academia and government experts to develop solutions for national defense.

Boulder Small Business Development Center (SBDC) – Providing Catalyst Space Accelerator with their well-known Economic Gardening curriculum, Boulder SBDC’s mission is to help small businesses grow and prosper in Boulder County.

Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) – Working with the Catalyst Space Accelerator to provide mentorship, counseling, training and expert government contracting advice, PTAC is co-located on the Catalyst Campus with the Catalyst Space Accelerator.

Now recruiting for their third cohort, Catalyst Space Accelerator hopes to become a permanent fixture in downtown Colorado Springs. For more information, visit https://catalystaccelerator.space/.

[1] https://www.cobrt.com/

[2] https://www.cobrt.com/champions-aerospace

 

AFRL/RV Catalyst Accelerator Welcomes New Program Manager to Oversee PNT-Focused Accelerator Cohort

Catalyst Campus, Colorado Springs, Colorado

October 12, 2018

Background

The Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) Catalyst Accelerator just launched its second cohort under the oversight of Air Force Lt Zoe Casteel. The cohort companies will be focused on Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) challenges, a hot topic right now because the United States is heavily dependent upon the form of PNT known as GPS – the Global Positioning System that not only helps us all navigate, but is also used to keep our world running, from agriculture to navigation to the proper operation of ATMs, gas pumps, and other credit card devices.

GPS has long been considered one of the great technology success stories. Usually it works flawlessly, doing precisely what it is supposed to do without a hitch. In fact, it is such an unqualified success that, as SpaceNews commented late last year, “the military’s global positioning system…is a victim of its own success.” [1]

This is because, as Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, recently said, “We built a glass house before the enemy had stones. Now they have stones.” [2] Enemy jamming of GPS signals, for example, has become one ever-present threat. There are also environments that are naturally GPS-denied, such as caves, steep mountain valleys and deep inside buildings through which our warfighters must be able to navigate. In total, GPS-dependent, mission-critical efforts include force deployment, force navigation, logistical support and vehicle navigation.

The lack of alternatives to GPS and the need for a back-up system not subject to the same vulnerabilities has been the subject of concern for years. Congressional committees have been studying the problem, and they worry that the Pentagon is not doing enough to assure the continuance of Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) capabilities if GPS becomes compromised.

In the meantime, the Air Force has begun taking on the problem by performing their own research as well as encouraging research among the private sector, often using innovative techniques such as design thinking to collaborate on possible solutions. The AFRL/RV Catalyst Accelerator is one such effort, with each company in the cohort carefully selected by the Air Force for their disruptive PNT technology.

Interview with Lt Zoe Casteel

KiMar Gartman, the Catalyst Campus Program Director for the AFRL/RV Catalyst Accelerator, recently sat down with the AFRL/RV’s Lt Zoe Casteel, Program Manager of their Space Technology Accelerator program, to welcome her to the Catalyst Accelerator and ask her how she came to be here at this place and time.

First, Zoe shared that she graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2017 as a Systems Engineer. During her time at the Academy, she took a design thinking class “and thought it was so cool that the Air Force was trying to do this new and innovative thing using the idea of design thinking. I thought, ‘Wow, being an engineer in the Air Force means you get to do a lot of cool things by rapidly generating ideas and technologies!’”

Zoe continued, “Then I got sent to the Air Force Research Lab, expecting us to be throwing out technology, year after year, iterating on things, and rapidly acquisitioning stuff for our end user, Air Force Space Command. Soon, though, I realized that is not at all what we do. In fact, it is common for a program to be in year ten of its acquisition at the research lab. Partly that is due to the fact that things going to space take a while, especially because you have to deliver a year and half early to integrate them on to a spacecraft. Partly it’s because you have to have so many redundant factors, since you can’t touch it once it gets into space. Ultimately, it just isn’t the rapid idea generation that I thought it would be. UNTIL…” Zoe emphasized, leaning forward, her eyes shining, “UNTIL somebody came to me and said ‘Hey, I’m running this program and we are going to bring new capabilities to the Air Force really quickly….’ And I said, ‘Great! I’m really interested.’”

Some intensive vetting followed. Zoe was asked if she was a self-starter, willing to talk to people, willing to push boundaries, and she thought, “Yes, this is exactly who I am!” She went on to explain, “There are two of us running these technology accelerators right now. It’s kind of a cool journey. This is what I pictured. This is what I would like to do for the rest of my life, currently, is to run programs like this. And because I have a background in systems engineering, which is more of a program management for engineering projects type of degree, this fits me a lot better than the kind of basic research people in the lab are doing.”

KiMar then asked a tough question: “Zoe, what inspires you about this new position?”

Zoe’s response was very prompt. “I enjoy going to work every day because I’m helping an end user. So, I don’t show up to work to make somebody money every day, I show up to work knowing that the things I do today could impact somebody ten years from now who is in the field. Someone who is kicking doors down in Afghanistan, whatever our future war is, that’s the person I am showing up to work for.

“What also inspires me is the fact that I can go out in search of technologies that are commercialized right now and bring those technologies to the warfighter six months from now. That is even more amazing, more exciting. I LOVE my job! I couldn’t ask for a better job as a young officer in the Air Force.”

Zoe’s enthusiasm for this critical work supporting the warfighter continued to spill over as she enthused, “I’m looking for technologies, seeing someone with a problem, and I can immediately pair those technologies to that problem and within a couple of months that person could have that in the field. That’s something that you just can’t do with any other type of program in the Air Force.”

Building on Zoe’s obvious excitement, KiMar went on to ask, “What kind of aspirations do you have for the Accelerator and the companies involved?”

Zoe’s enthusiasm spilled over again. “I have big aspirations! I am really excited about the companies in this accelerator. Positioning, Navigation and Timing is such a great area to do something like this in because there are so many segments, so many moving parts, no one can do what they are doing without the help of somebody else. So, I am excited to see what partnerships form, what agreements can be signed, who comes together to say, hey, you have a transmitter, I have a receiver, can we put those two things together, make them compatible, at least talk about it? I think that is one area this will be different from the previous accelerators that we have run. I have high aspirations for the collaborations that come out of this.”

KiMar had one last question: “Can you talk to us about the role that Colorado Springs as a community plays in making an accelerator successful?”

Zoe replied that one attraction of Colorado Springs was the prospect of locating a space technology accelerator at the Catalyst Campus, which was designed to support a collaborative program with partners like the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC), the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) of both Boulder and the Pikes Peak Region, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). She went on to say, “We also have Air Force Space Command here in Colorado Springs, so those are our end users at the Space Vehicles Directorate. You also have a thriving community here, a technologically focused community, that includes some investors and the kinds of people who want to come together and get involved in our program. So, we have plenty of people we can bring in to talk, a lot of expertise, potential investors, and, as mentioned earlier, our end users at Air Force Space Command. This is a unique community – without the SBDC or the investors or PTAC or C-TRAC, you’re not going to have those strong business development chops that are needed to build a successful program.”

Now in its fourth week, the AFRL/RV Catalyst Accelerator cohort is going strong; look for interviews with each cohort company being posted to this blog.

[1] http://spacenews.com/congress-demands-additional-security-backup-for-military-gps-signal/

[2] http://spacenews.com/congress-demands-additional-security-backup-for-military-gps-signal/

Seven SBIRs Awarded to Recent Catalyst Accelerator Alumni

Multiple Small Business Innovation Research Awards Go to Four Companies from Inaugural Cohort 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – October 2, 2018 – Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) Catalyst Accelerator, at the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs, is proud to announce that four of the six companies in the Accelerator’s Terrestrial Weather cohort, who attended the inaugural session of the program from January to April 2018, have together won a total of seven Small Business Innovation Research awards (SBIRs).

Most of the SBIRs awarded were new Special Topics Phase I SBIRs, typically bringing up to $50,000 in non-dilutive funding for each company selected. This new fast-funding mechanism means awards occur within 60 days of application as part of the Air Force’s commitment to acquiring new technologies rapidly. The performance period is short, as well – three months to develop the basic blueprint for each company’s innovative technology.

CEO and Chief Scientist of Adaptive Systems LLC, Rob Lancaster, is thrilled about the $50,000 SBIR awarded to his company to further develop their weather intelligence support environment software. Adaptive Systems first heard about Catalyst Accelerator from their Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer, who was helping them with a dilemma. At that time, Rob emphasized, “We were stuck. Our issue was that we didn’t want to take on any investment money and lose the [rights to the] IP for the technology we were developing… but we had to maintain full-time jobs. We just couldn’t afford to put in our own funds and do it full time to really ‘accelerate’ the technology ourselves.”

Catalyst Accelerator changed all that. “Catalyst offered us a great opportunity by giving us seed money; not only that, it opened so many doors to potential customers…. But I thought the most beneficial part of the whole program was that it taught us the ropes, how to really market your product. They gave us access to services and help that we didn’t know existed! Marketing support, customer discovery, how to actually build a solid business plan and how to get it out there to actually make it happen – those services were invaluable.”

Winning the SBIR award brought more than just excitement: “The fact that AFRL did indeed see value in what we were doing validated our whole vision – ‘Yes, finally, somebody sees something!’”

Guidestar Optical Systems is the recipient of four recent SBIRs, with a value of $500,000. Troy Rhoadarmer, Founder & Principal Scientist, explained, “We were only expecting maybe two out of four! It’s exciting in that these programs are going to provide a little more stability for our company.

“Three of the [award] topics are related to the technology we brought with us into the Catalyst Accelerator. We shifted a little bit as we went through the Catalyst program and modified what we ended up pitching. Through the Catalyst Accelerator process we talked to potential customers who gave us a better understanding of what they are looking for and how and where our technology can be applied in what they are doing. When the last round of SBIRs came out, we saw several topics where our technology could provide a solution. We’re very pleased and a little shocked that we got all four of them.”

Troy went on to say, “Because we went through the customer discovery [at Catalyst Accelerator], we used some of the techniques we learned when we talked to the SBIR customers ahead of time, even the ones where we thought, ‘Okay, we’ve never talked to these guys before but we could probably do what they are asking.’ Catalyst also opened up a new market area for us to look at. One of the SBIRs we went after, we probably wouldn’t have except for being at Catalyst and talking through the technologies and the customer requirements.”

The bottom line? According to Troy, “We are using a lot of what we learned at the Accelerator to adapt how we are doing business. We are a little more intentional, which has helped us become more stable and less of a roller coaster.” As an exciting postscript, Troy also announced that they have recently been awarded a Phase II SBIR, which will encompass prototyping their proposed technology.

Advanced Radar Company (ARC) spun off from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, according to Director of Strategy Ben Tarr, and has been primarily selling weather radar and weather radar processing software systems to international customers, focusing on the commercial market. “We haven’t done any business with the DoD or the US military, so the big reason we were excited to get involved with the Catalyst Accelerator program was the significant amount of [government] work related to meteorology, weather forecasting, and weather radar specifically; right now, we see a big opportunity to diversify who the DoD goes to when it comes to achieving their goals and meeting their needs related to these types of activities.”

Ben went on to explain, “As a small business, it is really hard to jump into a new vertical. We have established pipelines and customer relationships around the world for the commercial work we do, but to launch into a campaign to make the DoD community even aware of the fact we exist takes a considerable amount of time and resources.  What the Accelerator program really did for us was jump-start that entire process. The ability to talk directly to the user and the acquiring customer on the DoD and Air Force side was really powerful. We were directly introduced to the right set of people at the right time and were able to establish exactly what our offering would be. It became clear to us when talking to the DoD that our open-source AregnTM software product could be very advantageous to what the DoD is doing in the weather community.”

As for winning the SBIR, Ben and his co-workers at ARC are eager to get going on the work it requires: “We proposed doing a feasibility study to look at what it would do to take the open source Aregn product and cyberharden it so it could be deployed as a toolset that the Air Force could use. Because Aregn today has the ability to bring in more than just weather data; the DoD is very interested in how they can leverage existing sensor assets that are on orbit – exploring the ability to ingest some of those existing sensor datasets and looking at what Aregn can do to merge them with radar data to create standard meteorological data products.”

When asked how he felt about winning a SBIR, SaraniaSat’s CEO Tom George immediately said, “I am very grateful!” He followed that exclamation with this explanation: “The SBIR award is extremely important to us because it is the first key step to getting the DoD as a customer. SaraniaSat thanks the Air Force’s Special Topics Phase I SBIR program for making our DoD engagement possible.”

SaraniaSat’s advanced remote sensing technology is so unusual, SaraniaSat was recently written up in VentureBeat as a ‘Unicorn’ with a unique solution. Using satellites, drones and aircraft, SaraniaSat acquires high-temporal and high-spatial resolution, hyperspectral imagery of vast areas that they then process rapidly so that clients may receive early warning of remotely-detected changes for their application. Tom explained that, thanks to the SBIR award, his proposed technology now has Air Force Weather and two organizations within the Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center as potential end customers.

“What Catalyst did is prepare us really well,” especially “with the customer discovery process. We got a really good appreciation for how our tech could dovetail into their requirements, so even before the SBIR Phase I call came out we had a lot of our homework done. The preparation and training we got at Catalyst was invaluable in that it was a no-brainer to write the proposal when the SBIR came out because we had all the elements in place. Responding cold to an opportunity that came out, I doubt that our chances would have been as good.”

Ultimately, according to Tom, the SBIR award “is a very important foundational steppingstone for SaraniaSat’s engagement with the DoD. There is an ancient Chinese proverb: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.’ Nowhere can that be truer than with this SBIR.”

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ABOUT AFRL SPACE VEHICLES DIRECTORATE CATALYST ACCELERATOR

The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 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. Catalyst Accelerator partners with the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Colorado Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) of Boulder and the Pikes Peak Region, and Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for Accelerator teams. Visit www.cataystaccelerator.space for more information.

ABOUT CATALYST CAMPUS 
Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation is a research and development campus focused on aerospace and defense technologies headquartered in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. The vision of Catalyst Campus is to create an economic development “cluster” to expand the aerospace and defense industrial base in Southern Colorado through a collaborative infrastructure platform that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses. This unique, cluster environment stimulates economic growth and accelerates the development of new companies; promotes industry innovators, entrepreneurs, and start-ups; supports business training and workforce development; offers access to an applied research and development laboratory; and provides business development, support services and venture capital investment to accelerate innovation and the commercialization of technologies. Visit www.cataystaccelerator.space for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catalyst Accelerator Welcomes Second Cohort with Public Kick-Off

Air Force Special Topics SBIRs Used as New Mechanism to Select PNT-Focused Cohort

Catalyst Accelerator will welcome the program’s second cohort with a public Kick-Off to be held Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs. A defense and national security industry accelerator headquartered at the Catalyst Campus, the AFRL/RV Catalyst Accelerator is the first accelerator program to be held in Southern Colorado. The official launch of this cohort on October 3 will welcome eight small businesses working on disruptive Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) technologies.

Unique Collaborative Public-Private Partnership
Catalyst Accelerator is partnering with the Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate, which serves as the Air Force’s “Center of Excellence” for space technology research and development; through the partnership with AFRL/RV, Catalyst Accelerator exposes the AFRL team and other government partners to commercial technologies with innovative solutions to warfighter needs.

Catalyst Accelerator’s mission is to promote technology advancement for the warfighter and to guide technology transfer between the government and the commercial market. Catalyst Accelerator is unique in that it represents a collaborative effort between public and private organizations, including AFRL/RV, Catalyst Campus, the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC), two Colorado Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) from Boulder and the Pikes Peak Region, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

Introducing New Leadership
Changes in the management of the program will be announced at the Kick-Off. Former Catalyst Campus Program Director Dr. Rebecca Decker will be handing over the reins to KiMar Gartman of C-TRAC, most recently Program Manager for the Air Force’s successful AF CyberWorx innovation program. Ms. Gartman’s experience supporting AF CyberWorx is very closely aligned to the needs of the Accelerator, as pointed out by Dr. Decker, who said, “I am delighted to be passing the torch to KiMar, who is so uniquely qualified to oversee this program.”

Ms. Gartman is equally delighted to take on this new but familiar challenge: “I enjoy working collaboratively with the Air Force and I am excited to be a part of enriching the business knowledge of these companies and, through them, bringing rapid innovation to the warfighter!”

In addition to a new Program Director at the Catalyst Campus, AFRL/RV has announced a leadership change within their ranks: Lt Zoe Casteel will be taking over for Capt Jake Singleton as Program Manager for the Air Force. Lt Casteel is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and participated extensively in the AF CyberWorx program as a cadet. Now an Air Force engineer, Lt Casteel’s interests and qualifications are ideal to take over as Program Manager of the Accelerator program for the AFRL/RV. Lt Casteel told us, “I’m super excited about rapidly acquiring new PNT technology for the warfighter!”

Accelerator Curriculum and Cohort Focus
Catalyst Accelerator employs the Economic Gardening-based curriculum provided by SBDC-Boulder. Two things that make Catalyst Accelerator unique among accelerator programs are its co-location in Colorado Springs with Air Force Space Command and potential rapid funding mechanisms, available through the government. By locating the Accelerator on the Catalyst Campus in proximity to the customer, the customer discovery process – wherein the participants gather an operational perspective from Air Force personnel and decisionmakers and come to understand their needs – is greatly reduced, from an average of two years in the typical government market to less than three months through Catalyst Accelerator.

The intensive 12-week program’s focus is to find innovative, non-defense, commercial solutions in Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) that can be creatively adapted to meet Department of Defense stakeholders’ needs in a short timeframe and at a low cost. The Catalyst Accelerator will give the participating companies direct access to operational PNT experts and stakeholders from the United States Air Force and other government agencies, as well as from the Catalyst Campus, SBDC and PTAC national network of mentors, partners and investors.

Incoming Cohort Companies Selected via SBIRs
Catalyst Campus and our partners are excited to welcome Catalyst Accelerator’s incoming cohort of eight companies, who started the program on September 18th. Each company was carefully selected by AFRL/RV using the new Special Topics SBIRs (Small Business Innovation Research awards) as the application mechanism for entry into the cohort, with $50,000 in non-dilutive funding for each company chosen. This new fast-funding mechanism meant awards occurred within 60 days of application, as part of the Air Force’s commitment to acquiring new technologies rapidly.

The following companies were chosen to participate in the Catalyst Accelerator #CAPNT cohort:

Echo Ridge provides RF-focused research, product development, and intellectual property development to the Government and commercial marketplace through signal processing algorithm, software design, and hardware design and production. They are proposing a GPS-complementary receiver that takes in signals from other RF sources to provide PNT in GPS-unavailable environments.

PreTalen, circa 2007, is a woman-owned small business focused on providing expert systems engineering support for space, navigation, electronic warfare and cyber security. PreTalen is proposing a transmitter that can transmit multiple user-defined software-controlled navigation signals across the 1-2 GHz RF band.

esc Aerospace is a small, agile systems integrator with three lines of business: 1) mission critical systems for space applications; 2) Cyber Security and 3) “all things Drones.” They are proposing a PNT receiver that takes in signals from many different PNT sources to provide reliable PNT in denied/degraded environments.

Nokomis Inc. is dedicated to delivering advanced electromagnetic sensors and solutions. They are proposing a way to provide PNT signals in GPS-denied environments using the radio transmissions of commercial LEO satellites that are already in orbit. With their technology, Nokomis aims to be the leading provider of backup GPS service for military and commercial applications.

ColdQuanta brings expertise in ultra-cold matter engineering, UHV systems, and optomechanical systems for scientific and industrial applications. They are proposing a laser cooling chip-scale atomic clock for GPS-denied operational environments. Their clock can be deployed on air or land platforms. Commercialization ideas include communication networks, transportation systems, power grid control, and the financial sector.

NOVAA is a startup developing sensing and navigation solutions for the most challenging environments. They are proposing digital beamforming and machine learning assisted mapping of multi-path environments.

Third Insight’s ECHO software app gives commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drones the ability to navigate autonomously in GPS-denied environments, while providing real-time 3D imaging and situational awareness to remote operators. They are proposing 3D positional tracking and mapping in GPS-denied/degraded environment using an “intelligent body camera” that creates a predictive real time mapping of the environment. Commercial applications include SWAT teams, fire departments, first responders, etc.

Braxton Technologies LLC develops and delivers Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) products to outfit an entire satellite operations center, including command and control, simulation, flight dynamics, enterprise class scheduling and resource optimization, and front-end processors. Braxton delivers ground control segments (GCS) for various satellite missions and flight experiments. They are proposing an augmentation to their GCS work to insert software defined radio (SDR) PNT transmitters and receivers into their “FlashMAPTM” architecture, a play on the social media concept of “Flash Mobs,” to provide access to PNT information in GPS-degraded or -denied environments.

ABOUT AFRL SPACE VEHICLES DIRECTORATE CATALYST ACCELERATOR
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Accelerator is a defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 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. Catalyst Accelerator partners with the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization (C-TRAC), Colorado Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) of Boulder and the Pikes Peak Region, and Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for Accelerator teams. Visit www.cataystaccelerator.space for more information.

ABOUT CATALYST CAMPUS FOR TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation is a research and development campus focused on aerospace and defense technologies headquartered in downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. The vision of Catalyst Campus is to create an economic development “cluster” to expand the aerospace and defense industrial base in Southern Colorado through a collaborative infrastructure platform that supports entrepreneurs and small businesses. This unique, cluster environment stimulates economic growth and accelerates the development of new companies; promotes industry innovators, entrepreneurs, and start-ups; supports business training and workforce development; offers access to an applied research and development laboratory; and provides business development, support services and venture capital investment to accelerate innovation and the commercialization of technologies. Visit www.cataystaccelerator.space for more information.