Two Colorado Springs companies have been chosen for the launch of a Springs-based defense and national security accelerator program.
Catalyst Accelerator, based at the Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation on the east side of downtown, announced its inaugural cohort on Tuesday. The intensive 12-week program will task participating companies with developing better weather data and related, commercially viable products.
The accelerator, the first in southern Colorado, is a collaboration between Catalyst Campus, the nonprofit Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization, the Boulder and Pikes Peak Small Business Development Centers, the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the local chapter of SCORE. For the first cohort, Catalyst Accelerator is partnering with the Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicles Directorate, which serves as the Air Force's "Center of Excellence" for space technology research and development.
Predicting the weather and its impact is among the military's most significant challenges, said Catalyst Campus Executive Director Ingrid Richter at Tuesday's kickoff event. "From monsoons in the fields of Vietnam, to hurricanes in the Caribbean, to fog on the beaches of Normandy, the range of extreme weather events has a significant impact on our military operations."
Participating companies will have access to operational weather experts and stakeholders from the Air Force and other government agencies. Each team receives immediate capital of $15,000 from Space Capital Colorado, a Catalyst-endowed accelerator fund. The fund may choose to further invest in any of the accelerator companies.
The program will culminate with a demonstration day at Catalyst Campus, when the teams will pitch to government and commercial investors to raise additional capital or government funding for further prototype development via Other Transaction Authority; OTA funding was developed as a quick way for the government to support innovative new ideas without elaborate contract requirements and masses of red tape.
The two Springs companies picked for the accelerator are Adaptive Systems and XplotraX. Adaptive Systems, founded in 2011, is a technology integration and services startup with a focus on weather intelligence and data integration products. XplotraX's mission is to simplify satellite communication; the company has perfected short burst data over satellite to be used for GPS tracking and communication and ground-based weather systems.
"We think it's a great opportunity giving us the exposure to potential stakeholders, weather stakeholders, that need terrestrial weather decision support systems," Rob Lancaster. CEO of Adaptive Systems, said of the accelerator. "We are finding that a lot of the current weather decision support systems are too abstract."
Four other companies were also chosen, two from Colorado and two from California:
- Longmont-based Guidestar Optical Systems develops advanced optical measurement and control systems for light propagation through the atmosphere.
- Advanced Radar Company (ARC), based in Boulder, was founded in 2006 by the UCAR Foundation to commercialize a new generation of advanced weather radars.
- Koolock, based at Moffett Field, Calif., is a geospatial company providing satellite thermal imagery to monitor weather-related events and natural hazards.
- Los Angeles-based SaraniaSat was founded to bring "aircraft and satellite remote-sensing, data and information products" to agriculture and other areas.
Companies applied online for the accelerator; applications were received from across the country, including Puerto Rico, said Rebeca Decker, program director. Fifteen applicants were then chosen to pitch their technologies and companies in person to a review panel of Catalyst Accelerator and Air Force investors.