What is the Catalyst Accelerator?
Our program is unique among accelerator programs due to its co-location in Colorado Springs with the newly established US Space Force, as well as other space-based DoD units and industrial corporations. By locating the Accelerator on the resource-rich 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. Participating companies are designated an Air Force Liaison, an Air Force Sherpa to help companies navigate DoD, and a Commercial Sherpa to assist companies to make vital connections they need to accelerate their business.
Why did other Start-Ups, Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses join the Catalyst Accelerator?
“We joined the Catalyst Accelerator to get a crash course on dual-technology (commercial and government) business development strategies and learn as much as possible about Air Force customer needs. We were not disappointed! The accelerator content and discussions with the other cohort companies created a fantastic synergy and environment for our growth.” – Gareth Block, CEO and Founder, Third Insight, Inc., Austin, TX
“We recognized that access to the defense market would complement our commercial activities and substantially accelerate development, but had struggled to make in-roads. The insight and connections into this space that Catalyst Accelerator has provided have been invaluable!” – Markus Novak, President and Founder, Novaa, Columbus, OH
“I’ve had trouble getting attention from the Government prior to the Catalyst Accelerator and my expectation going in was that this might get my toe in the door, and I would still struggle. The reality was that the door was kicked wide open. I still have work to do and follow up, but I leave convinced that the government, certainly the Air Force, knows who we are and will support us.” –John Beane, CEO, MemComputing, Inc., San Diego, CA
Who should apply to the Catalyst Accelerator?
The Catalyst Accelerator is a defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Each Catalyst Accelerator cohort has unique and specific focus areas determined by the Air Force. Startups and small businesses that match the focus areas for that specific cohort should apply to the accelerator.
If you have funding or not, the key component is your ability to provide a solution that creates technology for the designated problem statement for the specific accelerator cohort. The selection process is focused around determining the best strategic and technological fit between the applicant, the Air Force, and our industry partners.
How to apply?
Applicants should apply through the application form on our website here.
Each startup or small business will submit an application through our website. Applicants who pass the initial screening will be invited to participate in a pitch event hosted at Catalyst Campus. If your team is, for some reason, unable to participate in the pitch event in person, we can plan to conduct your pitch by video teleconference. After the pitch event, CCTI, with advisement from DoD and industry experts, will select the applicants that have the best strategic and technological fit for our program and invite those teams to join the Catalyst Accelerator program.
What are the benefits of the Catalyst Accelerator?
Collaborate with both Government and Commercial Stakeholders
Work hand-in-hand in a collaborative environment where participants will have access to Government and Commercial Stakeholders in the Catalyst Campus ecosystem.
Participants of the Catalyst Accelerator will be able to take advantage of office space at Catalyst Campus, which includes high-speed internet and phone setup, campus concierge and support services.
No Equity Requirements
The Catalyst Accelerator does not take equity from startups and small businesses. The Catalyst Accelerator uses a “success fee” investment model or grant funding from Corporate Sponsors, when available.
What are the Minimum Requirements for Start-Ups, Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses?
- Startup or small business focused on technology relevant to the problem statement
- Startup or small business with under 50 employees (ideally)
- Ability to travel to Colorado Springs, Colorado every other week to attend residential curriculum
What is the Catalyst Accelerator Program timeline?
The Catalyst Accelerator is a tailored 12-week accelerator program where participating companies have access to:
- potential users, stakeholders, and decision makers from the DoD and Industry
- training workshops that serve to accelerate a company’s business development
- networking opportunities
- mentorship from DoD and industry experts alike
At the culmination of the program, we will facilitate a Demo Day and invite Government and Commercial investors, NewSpace champions, industry experts, venture capitalists, and others.
Do we need to be in person at the Catalyst Campus for the Duration of the Program?
Yes, however, the Catalyst Accelerator is a semi-residential program which only requires participants’ physical presence on Campus every other week, with rare exception. Participants will travel to Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado every other week for workshops, mentoring and in–person customer engagement. The program will be held starting at 8:00 am on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and will end each Friday at 2:00pm. On the virtual weeks, participants will continue to conduct customer engagement and attend virtual meetings and workshops when necessary.
What is the cost to attend the Catalyst Accelerator?
Participating companies are funded $12-15K to participate in the Accelerator. This funding is provided by a grant from a Corporate Sponsor or seed funding by a private investment organization. The latter is reimbursed through a success fee model where companies repay the investment based on their success related directly or indirectly to their involvement in the Accelerator.
When will I receive the grant funding?
Each participating company will receive $4K per month of the Accelerator. On the final day of the session, an additional $3K will be given to each company that has met the requirements of the program and turned in their deliverables. Deliverables include, but are not limited to, customer discovery logs, business development documentation, Demo Day pitch deck, and dutiful participation in cohort sessions for the 12-week duration.
Cohort Size: The Catalyst Accelerator accepts eight companies in each cohort.
Training Program: The Catalyst Accelerator program provides participating companies with the opportunity to be mentored on both business topics and technology-specific topics relevant to the NewSpace vertical. The curriculum provides cohort members with strategic planning and customized market research to overcome market and growth barriers.
Office Space: The Catalyst Accelerator provides participating companies office space, collaborative workspace, and meeting areas within the Catalyst Campus ecosystem during the 12–week program. The collaborative workspace at Catalyst Campus allows companies to easily learn from each other and engage with stakeholders in our entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Will you protect my intellectual property? Will you sign an NDA?
The Accelerator team recommends that all companies keep what they share during the Accelerator at a public level. With that said, NDAs are signed between cohort companies and individuals in the program with which they have to share sensitive information in order to participate in the program (e.g. the Accelerator management team and the Accelerator’s primary subject matter experts). Government employees are automatically under an NDA with all commercial companies they talk with, but industry participants are not. Companies will most likely feel the necessity to enter into an NDA with their Commercial Sherpas; however, it is up to each individual cohort company to decide with whom they wish to enter into an NDA.
How secure is the information I provide to Catalyst Accelerator?
Catalyst Accelerator uses the Valid Eval platform (https://www.valideval.com) to manage our application, evaluation, and feedback processes. Valid Eval (VE) protects applicants’ information using a multi-layered approach consistent with software industry best practices.
Some details: VE has architected its application security consistent with AWS’ “Well-Architected” framework, and the platform is hosted entirely in Amazon Web Services’ US-East-1 region, which holds 207 “FedRAMP Moderate” authorizations. These authorizations demonstrate that AWS US-East-1 operational, physical and information security practices have passed extensive compliance audits against US Government security standards. All communications between your browser and VE are encrypted-in-transit with the most-current revision of TLS supported by AWS, and all data stored to non-volatile memory is encrypted-at-rest. This includes all files uploaded by applicants, which pass directly from the applicant’s browser to AWS S3 and are stored encrypted via AES-256. Valid Eval also is careful to ensure that applicants’ intellectual property remains exactly that – by uploading information you grant Catalyst Accelerator and VE a license to view that information, but it remains yours, period.
If you have further questions or concerns, please contact VE directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell me more about the Sherpa Program.
Sherpas assist participating companies in navigating the complex space market by offering sound advice, helping with customer discovery, and assisting participating companies to make the connections they need to be successful. Participating companies will receive support from an Air Force and a Commercial Sherpa. Air Force Sherpas provide feedback from a military perspective and guidance on how to approach the DoD. Commercial Sherpas offer the same from an industry perspective.