The problem being solved: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) serves both the Department of Defense and the federal intelligence community, providing decision makers, military service members and first responders with images and information related to the topography, elevation, terrain, land cover and locational coordinates of a geographical area. Because of NGA’s unique mission set, identifying prospective industry partners through conventional channels can be challenging, so the agency is looking to broaden the pool of potential collaborators to include small, early-stage companies who may be unfamiliar with working for the federal government.
The technology solution: The NGA and MTC partnered to host a technology accelerator to identify commercial geospatial technologies with dual-use potential from early-stage companies and educate those companies on collaboration with the federal government. NGA’s innovation center, Moonshot Labs, provided the platform for accelerator activities. Between February 2021 and July 2022, the NGA Accelerator hosted three cohorts, each focused on technology related to a different aspect of NGA. Each cohort, with the support of subject matter experts from NGA and industry, had 13 weeks to develop proposals and presentations for their technology solutions.
The technology transfer mechanism: NGA established a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with MTC in 2019 to influence the growing technology sector in St. Louis. The relationship with MTC allows NGA to access companies that might not have known about or considered working with the agency. In addition, the PIA contributes to MTC’s role in growing and strengthening the regional economy by creating federal partnership opportunities for businesses and universities.
The impact: Of the 24 companies that participated in the first three cohorts, NGA had interest in continuing discussions with eight (33%), including five of the participants (63%) in the most recent cohort. A 2022 survey of the 16 participants from the first two cohorts indicated that:
five had signed contracts or agreements with the federal government
more than half had raised at least $500K in venture capital (including three that had raised more than $5M)
the participating companies, on average, each added 3 new full-time employees
all participants were moderately or actively engaged with NGA and had at least occasional contact with the defense community
two thirds were moderately or actively engaged with the St. Louis geospatial ecosystem
all remained focused on addressing issues relevant to NGA