Request for Proposal | NSIN Propel Program
Accelerating high-potential dual-use ventures focused on emerging technologies

Program Mission

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is engaging in several innovation initiatives, including various programs through the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD R&E) such as the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), to spur conversation and collaboration between the military and non-traditional civilian partners.

NSIN is a DoD program office reporting to the USD R&E and composed of three primary program portfolios: National Service, which includes activities and programs designed to offer new DoD service pathways for non-traditional problem solvers; Collaboration, which seeks to build enduring communities of national security problem solvers with a focus on non-traditional partnerships; and Acceleration, which primarily seeks to enrich the extant military-industrial base by facilitating rapid prototyping by national-security related start-up companies and facilitating entrepreneurs developing technologies with dual-use applications in the both the commercial and defense sectors.

Program Overview

NSIN is issuing this Request for Proposal with the intent to award up to $1M to one or a team of delivery partners (private company, non-profit organization, university, etc.) with demonstrated capabilities and track record that can address the prospective requirements described in the following sections as it relates to the successful deployment of the Propel program during the February 2021 – October 2021 period in the Mid-Atlantic Region (expected ~ 8 months but open to different proposals’ timetables). At NSIN, the Mid-Atlantic region corresponds to the States of New York and New Jersey.

Propel is a program within the NSIN Acceleration Portfolio that partners with commercial startup accelerators to provide solutions to the Department of Defense by rapidly helping develop dual-use ventures. A dual-use venture is one that targets both government and commercial (enterprise and/or consumer) customers with a core focus being on government customers in defense and national security.

This approach attracts and selects high-potential ventures and uses a proven strategy to accelerate the availability of emerging technology to the Department of Defense. The result is cohorts of non-traditional companies with validated TRL 4-6+ dual-use technology seeking DoD contracts, non-dilutive funding and other partnership instruments for further demonstration, development, experimentation, or prototyping.

By partnering with leading startup accelerators Propel creates new opportunities for both the DoD and early-stage ventures. Leveraging the proven developmental programs of our partners and NSIN’s nation-wide network, Propel expands DoD’s access to the venture community and accelerates the progress of start-ups in transforming their technology into actionable capabilities that address emerging and critical problems with a potentially transformational impact in national security.

Ventures that apply to Propel-associated accelerators go through a rigorous selection process to form a cohort focused around one or more DoD-identified tech verticals. Through a multi-month program, the ventures receive coaching and mentorship, a dual-use focused curriculum, and support in discovering their DoD customer. The result is a small business that is much closer to achieving product / mission fit and more prepared to succeed as a dual-use company.

Access the complete Request for Proposal

View the complete Request for Proposal.

Key Dates

  • RFP Issue Date: December 22, 2020
  • RFP Responses Due Date (required) (due by 12 p.m. submitter’s local time): January 25, 2021
  • Source selection and pre-award Target Date: February 1st, 2021
  • Full definition of SOW, budget and subcontract action completed Target Date: February 10, 2021
  • Period of Performance Target Date(s): February 15, 2021 – TBD (expected 8 months duration but open to proposals)