Contrary to traditional defense industry innovation practices, BAE Systems has adopted a new business model based on startup and non-traditional supplier collaboration that is intentionally risk tolerant and community development focused. This enables us to leverage new external technologies that have both commercial and defense applications, to rapidly deliver discriminating solutions to our customers, while driving the development of a strong defense innovation community. Working with these communities also allows us to catalyze new market opportunities.
The BAE Systems FAST Labs™ Technology Scouting team does not use an internal venture capital investment arm. Instead, it works closely with innovation companies, like startups and promising small businesses, to provide technical expertise, market context, deep defense customer knowledge, credibility, and a clear pathway to technology transition and insertion into military systems. This model and support, based on creating a roadmap for small businesses to become our suppliers, helps de-risk market launches and can often facilitate financing through the creation of strong investment opportunities.
Of particular interest to us are high growth innovation businesses relevant to BAE Systems addressing:
- Autonomous systems and AI/ML
- Cyberspace Technologies
- Advanced Electronics
- Multi-Modal Sensors
- Adaptive Intelligent Processing
- Advanced Manufacturing and Packaging
Ways to engage
At BAE Systems, we believe that by supporting local innovation ecosystems, we stimulate our economy and strengthen our national security. We invite startups, investors, and universities to join us in breaking new frontiers as we push the limits of what is possible, to give our customers an edge and our employees a chance to change the world.
Accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces are an integral part of our innovation ecosystems and play a crucial role in supporting our innovation community. In 2018, BAE Systems became the first prime contractor in the US to sponsor a commercial accelerator. The BAE Systems Technology Scouting Team actively engages in mentorship, office hours, and customer discovery in the following programs:
- Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars: Techstars is a worldwide accelerator program that connects startups to a network of successful mentors and partners. The Boston program, co-sponsored by BAE Systems and the US Air-Force, is focused on dual-use technologies that detect, track, identify, characterize, attribute or mitigate unmanned systems, to include sensors, computer hardware/software, image processing, AI, sensor fusion, secure communications, trusted ID, power systems, advanced materials, and man-machine interface.
Take a look at our most recent Ask Me Anything session with Techstars.
- MassChallenge - Safety and Security Track: MassChallenge is one of the world's largest accelerator programs, with the mission to strengthen the global innovation ecosystem by accelerating high-potential startups across all industries from anywhere in the world. BAE Systems is an active sponsor in both the Massachusetts and Texas accelerators. The Safety and Security track programs in Boston and Austin focus on startups with dual-use technologies.
- Capital Factory: Based in Austin, Texas, Capital Factory offers meetups, classes, networking opportunities, and high-profile events for thousands of entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, and more on an annual basis. Capital Factory hosts more than 900 annual events to over 100,000 participants in downtown Austin.
We are active participants in the Boston and Austin innovation communities, regularly hosting events at the Cambridge Innovation Center Venture Café and the Capital Factory in Austin.