Proven Expertise, Endless Opportunity.

Current Propel Program Iterations


Propel is a program within NSIN’s Venture Portfolio that partners with commercial startup accelerators to provide solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) by rapidly maturing dual-use companies. This approach de-risks the search for emerging technology and uses a proven strategy to accelerate novel solutions relevant to the DoD. By working with commercial accelerators, Propel helps units, commands, and program offices discover and shape emerging technologies in response to the real-world needs of the DoD.

Proven Expertise, Endless Opportunity

Propel partners with leading startup accelerators nationwide (e.g., Acme, MassChallenge, Decisive Point) to create new opportunities for both DoD mission partners and early-stage ventures. By leveraging NSIN’s network and the proven developmental programs of our partners, Propel expands DoD mission partner access to the venture community and assists startups in transforming their technology into capabilities.

Applying ventures for NSIN Propel undergo a rigorous selection process to form a cohort focused on DoD challenges. Through a multi-month process, with the guidance of mentors from the commercial sector, academia, private capital, and the DoD iteration sponsors, cohort members improve their technology, strengthen understanding of customer needs, and build a team into a viable dual-use business. The result is a small business that is much more prepared to work with the DoD and succeed in the commercial market. Accelerator programs culminate in a demo day when the startups show their progress to prospective customers and private sector investors.

Growing the National Security Innovation Base, One Partner at a Time

Past Propel programming has focused on areas of technological innovation relevant to DoD, such as autonomous systems, high-performance hardware and software, computer vision, augmented reality/virtual reality, and data-enabled recruiting, training, and education. Crucially, these technologies have both commercial and defense applications because the sustainable growth of our partners depends on having broad markets.

Since FY18, Propel has collaborated with six commercial accelerators to advance more than 130 high-potential dual-use ventures. These ventures have received $103 million in DoD funding and $250 million in private investment.