HACKING 4 ALLIES 2022-2023
We are pleased to announce that we have recently selected eight companies for the Hacking 4 Allies program 2022/23 cycle. The companies are:
To read more about the cohort, please follow this link.
Points of Contact:
Tore Helland, Senior Adviser, FFI, firstname.lastname@example.org
Einar Gustafson, Counselor for Defense Industry Cooperation, Innovation Norway/Royal Norwegian Embassy, Washington, DC, email@example.com
Chloe Friberg, Norwegian-American Defense Industry Council (NADIC), firstname.lastname@example.org
About Hacking 4 Allies
Hacking 4 Allies was conceived from the start in 2018 as a true Team Norway program, including the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and Innovation Norway (IN) as equal program partners. The program is 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). Hacking 4 Allies has strong support from the Norwegian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Norwegian Defence and Security Industries Association (FSi).
The Hacking 4 Allies pilot ran from 2019 to 2021 and included four (4) Norwegian startups – Alva Industries, Excitus, Fieldmade and UBIQ Aerospace. The 2021/22 program cycle included eight (8) companies – Anzyz Technologies, Avju Solutions, Eelume, Green Ammo, Mnemonic, Mode Sensors, Vake and Yetimove – and future H4A cycles will continue to assess eight (8) Norwegian companies into the program 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 takes place at FFI’s ICEworx facilities, the Washington, DC-based incubator House of NADIC and at BMNT, Inc.’s H4XLabs facilities in Palo Alto, CA.
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 during 2019-2021 sought solutions in the Special Operations Forces (SOF) field – typically quicker to adopt new (and non-U.S. sourced) technologies – follow-on program cycles have opened up the aperture to be military branch agnostic, and as such covers all aspects of national and allied defense and security.
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 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.
Competitiveness of Norwegian Defense- and Security Industry
The U.S. 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.
Compared to that of many 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 Norwegian parliamentary white paper (Parliamentary White Paper No. 17, 2020-2021: Cooperation for Security – National Defence-Industrial Strategy) 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, while leveraging the competitiveness stemming from specialization and complementarity.