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After a wildly successful inaugural 2018 program, Techstars, the U.S. Air Force, MD5, and BAE Systems FAST Labs, are delighted to announce the 2019 class of the Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars.

The program was originally brought to market in partnership with the Air Force, who at the time was focused on increasing its engagement with early stage innovative startups and altering their approach to how they interface with and buy from startup organizations—without turning them into full-fledged defense contractors. This initial program was so successful that additional sponsors Air Education and Training Command (AETC), MD5, and BAE Systems FAST Labs have joined AFWERX and Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) to support the 2019 program.

All 10 cutting-edge companies from the program’s first year have gone on to win U.S. Department of Defense contracts, commercial proof-of-concept projects, or private investment, and are in the process of fielding state-of-the-art products to warfighters. In addition, nine of these companies received funding from the Air Force’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program.

Funded and supported by the U.S. Federal Government, SBIR is one of the largest sources of early-stage capital in the United States, and is intended to help small businesses conduct R&D—and opens another funding option to founders looking to maintain equity. A few updates to AFWERX’s specific SBIR program for 2019 makes it even more attractive to both entrepreneurs and VCs: companies who have already received SBIR contracts who go on to raise a traditional funding round can get that funding matched by SBIR, up to $1.5 million. AFWERX is also executing a much quicker turnaround time for grant applications, thanks to a redesigned application process.

Nearly half of the 2019 class of companies already have open SBIR contracts, awarded before the start of the program—making them eligible for that generous matching option.

We are proud to announce the Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars class of 2019:


Complete, end-to-end, non-destructive counter-drone system safely tracks, intercepts, and neutralizes malicious drones and drone swarms


Avocado Systems

Internal cloud threat detection that can identify zero-day vulnerabilities after intrusion



Handheld Raman Spectrometer that can identify molecular composition of substances in near real-time


Cleo Robotics

“Hockey Puck” drone that can be thrown and bounce of floors and walls for special operations reconnaissance and inspection of constrained spaces


FLITE Material Sciences

Proprietary surface treatment making materials naturally water and ice repellent, and rust resistant



Edge-based AI for cybersecurity of IoT devices



Drone incident reporting app and cloud SaaS service to inform public safety and homeland defense of malicious drone and swarm events



Ultra-low latency Time Series Database (TSDB) for autonomous vehicle data analytics, IoT, and financial data processing.


Emotional recognition AI to feed back user experience data to user interface designers, courseware designers, for improving customer experience and interface effectiveness


Vita Inclinata

Stability device for sling loads under helicopters and cranes to counter dangerous chaotic motion due to high winds, sea motion, and vehicle dynamics


Warren Katz Warren Katz
Warren Katz is the Managing Director for the Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars. He co-founded MÄK Technologies in 1990, a leading global vendor of military simulation software. He is an avid mentor and angel investor at both Techstars and Bolt, with expertise in how to fund companies using government contracts. He is a noted industry advocate of open interoperability standards and commercial business models in Department of Defense procurement.