H4A Utlysning Grafikk.png

HACKING 4 ALLIES ANNOUNCEMENT

Call for Applications for Hacking 4 Allies 2021/22 Program Cycle

FFI and Innovation Norway are seeking applicants to the Hacking 4 Allies (H4A) program’s first annual 2021/22 program cycle. If you define yourself as a Norwegian startup- or scaleup company with a value proposition within defense- or dual-use technology, you qualify to apply. Prospective companies are encouraged to submit applications via email to either of the Points of Contact listed below. Applications should describe the company’s size, maturity level and value proposition, and answer as many of the following questions as possible:

 

Basic Questions:

  1. Name 

  2. Email 

  3. Company Name 

  4. Founder/CEO

  5. Website/URL

 

Specific Questions:

  1. Which defense & security related problem(s) are you solving? 

  2. Which commercial applications, if any, have you identified? 

  3. Who are your competitors in the commercial market?

  4. Who are your competitors in the defense market?

  5. At which technical stage do you estimate your current solution to be, using NASA TRL Levels?

  6. What is the next development milestone for your solution?

  7. From your perspective, what is the greatest risk facing your company/team/solution at present?

  8. Please attach your pitch deck (PDF), showing:

    • Commercial customer/revenue/pilot traction

    • Current investors/fundraising traction 

    • Current government customers/contract traction

  9. How much funding have you raised? 

  10. Please attach your executive summary.

 

Key Points:

  • Application deadline: May 31, 2021

  • Participation fee: NOK30,000

  • Program kickoff: Early September 2021

  • Participating companies are responsible for travel and accommodation costs associated with trips to the U.S. and FFI ICEworx locations in Norway.

 

Points of Contact:

Supporting Information

About Hacking 4 Allies

Hacking 4 Allies was conceived from the start as a true Team Norway program, including the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and Innovation Norway (IN) as equal program partners. The recently concluded program pilot was primarily managed by IN’s Washington, DC-office, and supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and its Defense Attaché Office in Washington, DC, the Norwegian General Consulate in San Francisco, IN-San Francisco, and the DC-based Norwegian-American Defense Industry Council (NADIC). The program has strong support from the Norwegian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Norwegian Defence and Security Industries Association (FSi). Hacking 4 Allies completed its pilot program cycle in February 2021, and included four (4) Norwegian startups – Alva Industries, Excitus, Fieldmade and UBIQ Aerospace. Future program cycles aim to include eight (8) Norwegian companies per year.

 

Hacking 4 Allies is intended to yield investments, R&D funding and sales contracts for Norwegian startups and scaleups within dual-use (i.e. military and civilian) markets in the U.S. and Norway. Main program activities will take place at FFI’s newly established ICEworx facilities, the Washington, DC-based incubator House of NADIC and at BMNT, Inc.’s H4XLabs facilities in Palo Alto, CA. BMNT, Inc. is a leader in national security innovation and empowers mission-driven entrepreneurs within the public and private sectors to solve challenging national security problems. BMNT’s accelerator H4XLabs provides specialized support for dual-use companies tackling hard problems from concept through product deployment and scaling. It employs a unique approach to accelerating companies by working 1:1 with each team and tailoring the program around the company’s specific stage in creating a dual-use company. BMNT works with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and many other intelligence community organizations with the vision of capturing the entrepreneurial community’s innovation spirit and applying it to America’s most pressing national security missions. Hacking 4 Allies represents BMNT’s recognition of the importance of innovative solutions from allied nations and its desire to contribute to the establishment of an allied innovation base, with Norway as its pilot program partner.

 

Hacking 4 Allies sources problems common to both U.S. and Norwegian national security and defense. The program employs Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) methodology – rooted in Lean Startup- and Business/Mission Model Canvas methodologies by Alexander Osterwalder and Steve Blank – to help Norwegian technology startups and scaleups address these problems in order to discover and realize pathways to deployment. This is achieved through training/coaching, connection with the problem owner/end user, iterative problem-solving techniques, and introductions to relevant investor-, acquisition- and R&D communities in the U.S. and Norway. While the Hacking 4 Allies pilot sought solutions in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) field – typically quicker to adopt new (and non-U.S. sourced) technologies – this program cycle opens up the aperture to be military branch agnostic, and as such covers all aspects of national and allied defense and security.

 

In the U.S., the military R&D- and acquisition system is large and highly distributed, and as such can be challenging to navigate – particularly for a foreign SME. A central component of Hacking 4 Allies is to decide whether the best pathway to deployment for a company’s technology exists in the military or commercial market – and in both cases, facilitate the necessary connections and provide tailored guidance on how to secure funding. U.S. and Norwegian defense authorities both acknowledge that their respective military acquisition processes are unnecessarily complex and lengthy. Both countries are implementing faster and simpler methods of acquiring defense and security equipment, by focusing on rapid innovation cycles, closer connection between industry and the end user, and more focus on dual-use technologies and SMEs. Hacking 4 Allies is designed specifically to leverage these trends in the allied technology innovation and acquisition space.

***

Recruitment Process

Hacking 4 Allies seeks companies with new and innovative dual-use technologies that address problems within national security and defense common to the U.S. and Norway. An established relationship with the Armed Forces in Norway or to FFI is an advantage, but not a requirement. FFI, Innovation Norway and BMNT will shortlist promising applicants and conduct virtual interviews to end up at the desired target of eight (8) companies. Preference will be given to companies that a) have technology that matches problems within national/allied defense and security that are common to the U.S. and Norway, b) have ambitions in the U.S. market, and c) are deemed to be at the right stage in their overall business development cycle. In addition to traditional defense- and security related technologies, the program will also seek to include companies within the fields of cold-weather resilience, sensor technology, medical technology, cyber security, autonomy, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence – all of which are seen as important emerging sector trends. The evaluation of how well a company fits into the program is performed jointly by FFI, IN and BMNT. FFI will make assessments based on current and future needs of the Norwegian Armed Forces, BMNT will gauge U.S. market fit,  and IN will do a commercial evaluation.

***

Program Execution

Companies that join Hacking 4 Allies (H4A) will primarily work directly with FFI and BMNT teams in seeking pathways to deployment in Norway and the U.S. The overall program will be executed as a series of activities running from August 2021 to April/May 2022, and can be summarized as follows (subject to change):

  • Assessment/Selection (June – August 2021)

    • FFI/IN/BMNT will recruit and assess Norwegian companies that have opportunities to solve challenging problems common to the Norwegian Armed Forces and the U.S. DoD and/or other U.S. Gov't agency.

    • FFI/IN/BMNT will align Norwegian problem sponsors as well as U.S. DoD/other U.S. Gov't agency problems and problem sponsors with Norwegian companies as they assess into the program.

  • Kick-Off Event (early September 2021)

    • FFI/IN/BMNT will plan & execute a H4A kick-off event for the selected companies at FFI’s ICEworx facilities in Kjeller, Norway.

  • Product Validation and Pathways to Deployment in the U.S. (September 2021 – February 2022)

    • BMNT will develop a 180-day customized program for each Norwegian company assessed into H4A in order to set them up to solve U.S. DoD/other U.S. Gov't agency problem.

    • BMNT will deliver a structured program (in person and virtually) based on H4D methodologies, designed to help teams pursue product iteration in order to achieve product/mission fit, including:

      • Assist teams with navigating government customers

      • Educate and advise teams in navigating U.S. defense market opportunities

      • Help schedule meetings with relevant U.S. DoD innovation organizations during company visits to the Washington, DC area

      • Provide access to investor network

      • Support company buildout (as needed)

  • Technology Exposure in Norway

    • ICEworx Rena (October 2021)

    • COLD Response (March 2022)

  • Visits to the U.S.

    • Washington, DC (October 2021)

      • AUSA 2021, Washington Defense Week/Norwegian-American Defense Conference (aka “the NADIC conference”)

      • House of NADIC incubator membership/office space in Washington, DC incl. throughout the program

    • Palo Alto, CA (February 2022)

      • H4A Networking Event & Reception at the Norwegian Consul General’s Residence

      • IN/FFI/NADIC/BMNT will plan & execute an investor pitch event for H4A companies

      • Meetings/introductions

    • Visit #3 (optional): TBD location for relevant 2022 tradeshow (e.g. SOFIC/Tampa, FL; AUVSI Xponential/Orlando, FL; Navy League SeaAirSpace/Washington, DC; NADIC 2022)

 

***

Competitiveness of Norwegian Defense- and Security Industry

Compared to that of many of our peer- and allied nations, Norway’s defense-industrial base is highly niche-oriented and thus specialized. As such, Norway's defense industry does not deliver large complex military platforms often seen among the product offerings of large U.S. defense contractors (aka “primes”). This is a direct result of the Norwegian Government’s focus on certain technological competency areas, which again correspond to our Armed Forces strategic requirements. The recent parliamentary white paper (Stortingsmelding 17, 2020-2021: Samarbeid for sikkerhet – Nasjonal forsvarsindustriell strategi for et høyteknologisk og fremtidsrettet forsvar) points out that this specialization over time has given Norwegian defense and security companies competitive advantages in international markets in areas such as missile technology, air defense systems, ammunition, underwater technology, autonomous and unmanned vehicles, command-, control- and communications systems, including crypto.

 

Apart from being world-leading in many of these areas due to technological specialization over many years, an important additional competitive advantage is derived from the fact that our defense industry can in principle collaborate with most large U.S. providers of military systems. Norwegian defense industry mainly provides systems, sub-systems and components that are considered complementary to many U.S. defense contractors’ offerings, and as such often avoids competitive situations with its American partners.

 

Competitors to Norwegian defense and security industry in the U.S. market comprise both domestic and international players. Norwegian industry has potential for success in the U.S. provided that their value proposition involves a technology or solution that is needed by the U.S. military, and because of its competitive advantages. Hacking 4 Allies ensures the first condition is satisfied, and leverages the competitiveness stemming from specialization and complementarity.