Accelerating Hardware Development
We accelerate the development of dual-use hardware technologies critical to our national security and economic competitiveness.
We help you get to market faster.
National Security Innovation Capital (NSIC) is a new DoD initiative that enables dual-use hardware startups to advance key milestones in their product development by addressing the shortfall of private investment from trusted sources. We award Other Transaction (OT) agreements to accelerate your productization efforts.
We focus our funding on critical technologies.
NSIC is focused on next-generation hardware technologies for application to connected mobile and edge systems that support distributed operations in land, sea, air, and space domains.
Who is eligible to work with us?
NSIC seeks to engage domestic startups that are developing dual-use hardware products with both commercial and defense applications. Startups may span early stage (at least proof of concept-TRL3 or higher) to late stage (pre-production) . If your startup has not at least achieved TRL3 and/or is already mass-producing and shipping customer ready products, please refrain from applying to NSIC at this time.
Our process is straightforward.
NSIC’s topics of interest are open for continuous evaluation through our Commercial Acceleration Opportunity (CAO) process, which means you can submit a pitch at any time. We seek to quickly evaluate pitches as they are submitted and award Other Transaction (OT) agreements efficiently.
If you are interested in working with us, here is what to expect:
Pitch Submission You submit a pitch relative to one of our technologies of interest.
Pitch Session If selected, you will be invited to a live pitch session.
Proposal Request We evaluate your pitch internally and, if selected, you will receive a proposal request.
Contract Negotiation We document and negotiate the details of a formal contract and award together.
Project Execution Get funded and start your development!
What's in a pitch?
NSIC requires companies to align their proposal with one of our topics of interest, to fill out a brief form, and to submit a pitch deck no longer than 20 slides.
Be sure to read the Commercial Acceleration Opportunity (CAO) document thoroughly prior to creating and submitting your pitch deck. At minimum, include the following information, along with any other details, that demonstrate your keys to - and understanding of - success:
Specific NSIC request and use of funds
Target end-user problem(s) and sizing of need(s)
Commercial and defense applications
Technology differentiation vs competitors and supporting data
Current stage of development and related IP
High-level product development plan
High-level business plan including detailed go-to-market strategy
Potential risks and mitigations
Investor funding and sources
Technical and management staff and backgrounds
Assertion as a nontraditional defense contractor
Company name and contact information
Date of submittal
Frequently Asked Questions
If your startup is incorporated in the United States, and you’re developing hardware products, you may apply for NSIC funding. Startups incorporated in an allied country that have operations in the United States where work can be performed will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
We expect awards will range between $500K and $3M. Performance periods will range between 12-18 months.
If selected, your company will be awarded a fixed-price OT contract with NSIC under the OT Authority (10 U.S.C. Title §2371b) granted to the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
NSIC funding is primarily targeted towards hardware-based products and their associated technologies. Software-oriented aspects may be part of the product design, test, operation, and support, but it should not be the primary focus of the development you expect to be funded by NSIC. Such hardware-based products can be sold stand-alone or as the basis of a service or solution.
You may combine NSIC funds with other Government funding and private sources as long as they are all U.S.-based public or private sources, and explicitly highlighted in your pitch to NSIC.
We expect only one company to submit each proposal. Any and all collaborations you have and seek to utilize with other partners should be clearly identified in your pitch to NSIC.
The contract you sign with NSIC will outline specific milestones and reporting requirements. If you are funded, expect NSIC to serve as an external stakeholder to your project management team.
IP rights will be determined and negotiated as part of the contracting process. The completed prototype is yours to keep. A final report will be due to NSIC, describing the prototype development and the results of agreed-upon tests that demonstrate the project has met its goals.
NSIC reports to DIU leadership and operates distinctly from its sister organization, National Security Innovation Network, and core DIU. NSIC is focused specifically on hardware technologies in the early stages of development or pre-production (e.g. TRL 3 or higher). Companies may submit pitches related to our technologies of interest at any time and NSIC continuously evaluates submissions for awards. NSIC projects are designed to help companies further develop their technologies and reach new product development milestones. Please be aware that submitting a pitch to NSIC does not automatically make your company eligible for award with DIU nor vice versa.
Funding for FY23 has been obligated. We are currently accepting and evaluating proposals for FY24.
The following are useful tips to consider:
Organize and customize your pitch deck in a manner that addresses all the criteria of interest to NSIC. Do not submit a generic VC presentation.
Tailor your submission for the readers (technology/engineering generalists + business executives).
Describe separately the proposed commercial and defense use cases that your prototype can address (problem-solution fit). Clearly state the value proposition and how it will be superior to current and pending solutions.
Identify the area(s) of technical differentiation (qualitative and quantitative) and compare them against existing and potential competitors.
Provide detailed market opportunity sizing for directly relevant commercial market segments; for example estimate TAM, SAM and SOM.
Describe and explain your targeting criteria for early customers. Note status of any current discussions.
Provide a view of the execution risks you may encounter, their likelihood and impact, and what strategies will be employed to manage them.
Request a preferred amount of funding, but feel free to provide one or two alternatives based on different levels of prototype development, as options for consideration.
Provide enough information on qualifications and experience (technical, domain, startup, military) of key staff members and advisors to enable evaluation of their ability to make the business successful.
Balance the level of detail with the need to communicate key points clearly - presentation and content both matter.