Pentagon innovation office promotes Jake Laktas to lead its Midwest hub for venture and academic partnerships from St. Louis

The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN,) a Department of Defense (DoD) program office, appointed Jake Laktas as the first regional director for the Midwest region. Laktas is based in St. Louis.

Laktas will strengthen relationships between defense, academia, and venture communities across Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas in his new role. His appointment provides innovators in the Midwest opportunities to collaborate and develop innovative solutions for national security challenges.

“At NSIN, we’ve enabled the St. Louis venture and academic ecosystems to develop unique pathways into the Defense and Intelligence community,” said Jake Laktas, NSIN Midwest regional director. “I’m excited to use this momentum to facilitate new partnerships across the Midwest, supporting St. Louis as a fast-growing hub for national security innovation.”

Since joining NSIN in 2019 as a university program director, Laktas has expanded defense innovation programs for startups, academics, and DoD partners throughout the St. Louis region. From enabling hundreds of entrepreneurs and dozens of early stage ventures to deliver cutting-edge technology to driving high-level enterprise relationships between government, economic development organizations, and academic institutions, Laktas has contributed to a rapidly growing St. Louis defense innovation ecosystem.

By engaging organizations in the venture ecosystem along with partners at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), Saint Louis University, and the University of Missouri, Laktas has managed solution development for more than 50 national security problems, including artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), geospatial technology, and biomedical sciences.

Through NSIN programs such as X-Force and Hacking for Defense (H4D), Laktas has worked with students and researchers at WashU and Scott Air Force Base to create a cockpit trainer for pilots to learn technology updates quickly and help the base prevent flooding in the hangars. These two initiatives saved the Air Force time and resources while reducing repair costs.

Laktas also helped broker a partnership between NSIN and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to accelerate dual-use ventures for DoD problem sponsors and commercial use. By facilitating NSIN programs such as Propel, Hacks, and the National Security Academic Accelerator (NSA2), he helped create a pipeline for startups in St. Louis to develop their businesses within the DoD.

In 2021, Laktas is furthering the expansion of the St. Louis innovation hub through strategic partnerships with Cortex, Global Center for Cybersecurity, and T-Rex for students, startups, and dual-use ventures to access the region’s growing talent pipelines and defense resources.


NGA Quote about Jake Laktas

Quote about Jake Laktas

“Expanding innovation capacity and entrepreneurial activity in St. Louis’ geospatial sector are at the very core of what GeoFutures is working to achieve. The work NSIN is doing to develop regional partnerships and engage talent not traditionally aligned with national security is in perfect alignment with the strategies laid out in the GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap, and we are glad to have them as such a strong and growing partner in the region.” - Andy Dearing, project lead, GeoFutures

About NSIN

NSIN is changing the way the Department of Defense solves problems. NSIN is building a diverse network from academia, entrepreneurial innovators and the defense community to leverage our nation’s greatest asset- people. NSIN is headquartered in Arlington, Va., and has 11 regional offices in commercial innovation hubs throughout the U.S.