Back to News & Media
Friday, October 13, 2017

Startups Find Common Ground for Defense Collaboration

Draper and Partners Smooth Pathway for Young Businesses Targeting to Apply Innovations to National Security Requirements

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Civil-military collaboration has led to some of the most significant technology innovations of the modern world, including the internet, GPS and autonomous vehicles. Following in this tradition, a range of stakeholders led by some of the nation’s leading research, development and national security organizations will focus on a business approach to bringing commercial startup innovations to the defense market at an event called Defense Innovation for the Warfighter.

Cosponsored by Sembler, the event, on Oct. 19, 2017, can help startups learn about how to work with prime contractors and government agencies on defense technology. Sembler is a Draper initiative focused on building partnerships with technology startups.

“Solutions to the most critical national security challenges facing the U.S. today will come from a combination of traditional and non-traditional sources. The creativity, dedication and passion of entrepreneurs and inventors creating next-generation technology is key to finding those breakthrough solutions,” said Nathan Wiedenman, Director of the Sembler office at Draper. “Defense Innovation for the Warfighter will help fast-track the formation of new, next-generation ventures and highlight the importance of startups as a pillar of 21st century defense innovation.”

Hosted by Venture Café and the NDIA New England Chapter from 4 to 8 p.m., the event is designed to bring the defense community together to discuss all of the different avenues and opportunities for accelerating technology development for the warfighter. Featuring panel discussions, information tables and a networking mixer, the event will be attended by startup companies, defense industry professionals, government officials and other interested sectors.

From 4 to 6 p.m. two 45-minute panel discussions will be held. The first will be about defense prime contractors advancing Department of Defense (DoD) innovation. The second will explore DoD innovation organizations accessing and developing new technologies for the warfighter; Wiedenman will serve as moderator. Although the event is free and open to the public, due to space limitations for the afternoon panel sessions, those wishing to attend the panels are asked to RSVP.

From 6 to 8 p.m. the event will be a networking mixer that includes breakout sessions, information tables and complimentary beverages and light food. Sembler and NDIA New England will have information tables, as will Army SBIR from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Battelle Mission Defense Systems & Support, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Mission Systems and The MITRE Corp.

The event will be held at the Venture Café in the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square at One Broadway, 5th floor, Cambridge. For a detailed event agenda, see the event’s website registration page. For questions, contact Alan Campbell of Sembler at (617) 258-1000 or NDIA New England Board members Nadja Adilovic or Michelle Pelersi at (703) 522-1820.

Businesses with a defense industry interests can attend “Defense Innovation for the Warfighter,” an event sponsored in part by Draper and organized by the National Defense Industrial Association and Venture Café in the Cambridge Innovation Center. Pictured here are special operations forces on patrol in Afghanistan. (Credit: U.S. Army) Sembler is active in the startup community and serves as a conduit for them to resources and personnel at Draper and its partners.
Capabilities Used
Autonomous Systems

Draper combines mission planning, PN&T, situational awareness, and novel GN&C designs to develop and deploy autonomous platforms for ground, air, sea and undersea needs. These systems range in complexity from human-in-the-loop to systems that operate without any human intervention. The design of these systems generally involves decomposing the mission needs into sets of scenarios that result in trade studies that lead to an optimized solution with key performance requirements.  Draper continues to advance the field of autonomy through research in the areas of mission planning, sensing and perception, mobility, learning, real-time performance evaluation and human trust in autonomous systems.

Precision Instrumentation

Draper develops precision instrumentation systems that exceed the state-of-the-art in key parameters (input range, accuracy, stability, bandwidth, ruggedness, etc.) that are designed specifically to operate in our sponsor’s most challenging environments (high shock, high temperature, radiation, etc.).  As a recognized leader in the development and application of precision instrumentation solutions for platforms ranging from missiles to people to micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Draper finds or develops state-of-the-art components (gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, precision clocks, optical systems, etc.) that meet the demanding size, weight, power and cost needs of our sponsors and applies extensive system design capabilities consisting of modeling, mechanical and electrical design, packaging and development-level testing to realize instrumentation solutions that meet these critical and demanding needs.


Draper has designed and developed microelectronic components and systems going back to the mid-1980s. Our integrated, ultra-high density (iUHD) modules of heterogeneous components feature system functionality in the smallest form factor possible through integration of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology with Draper-developed custom packaging and interconnect technology. Draper continues to pioneer custom Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and custom radio frequency components for both commercial (microfluidic platforms organ assist, drug development, etc.) and government (miniaturized data collection, new sensors, Micro-sats, etc.) applications.  Draper features a complete in-house iUHD and MEMS fabrication capability and has existing relationships with many other MEMS and microelectronics fabrication facilities. 

Fault-Tolerant Systems

Draper has developed mission-critical fault-tolerant systems for more than four decades. These systems are deployed in space, air, and undersea platforms that require extremely high reliability to accomplish challenging missions. These solutions incorporate robust hardware and software partitioning to achieve fault detection, identification and reconfiguration. Physical redundancy or multiple, identical designs protect against random hardware failures and employ rigor in evaluating differences in computed results to achieve exact consensus, even in the presence of faults. The latest designs leverage cost-effective, multicore commercial processors to implement software-based redundancy management systems in compact single-board layouts that perform the key timing, communication, synchronization and voting algorithm functions needed to maintain seamless operation after one, two or three arbitrary faults of individual components.

Secure & Assured Systems

Over the past 10 years, Draper has extracted miniature systems and real-time embedded systems design knowledge to develop cyber capabilities to assess software vulnerabilities and capabilities to secure electronics systems. Additionally, Draper has demonstrated secure networks featuring over-the-air keying to realize cryptographically encoded, high-bandwidth communications for UAVs and other applications. These complementary capabilities and technologies provide robust security solutions to guard critical embedded systems against cyber, reverse engineering, and other attacks and ensure that critical information can be protected and delivered in a timely and accurate manner.

Human-Centered Solutions

Draper has continued to advance the understanding and application of human-centered engineering to optimize the interaction and capabilities of the human’s ability to better understand, assimilate and convey information for critical decisions and tasks. Through its Human-Centered Solutions capability, Draper enables accomplishment of users’ most critical missions by seamlessly integrating technology into a user’s workflow. This work leverages human-computer interaction through emerging findings in applied psychophysiology and cognitive neuroscience. Draper has deep skills in the design, development, and deployment of systems to support cognition – for users seated at desks, on the move with mobile devices or maneuvering in the cockpit of vehicles – and collaboration across human-human and human-autonomous teams.

Image & Data Analytics

Draper combines specific domain expertise and knowledge of how to apply the latest analytics techniques to extract meaningful information from raw data to better understand complex, dynamic processes. Our system design approach encompasses effective organization and processing of large data sets, automated analysis using algorithms and exploitation of results. To facilitate user interaction with these processed data sets, Draper applies advanced techniques to automate understanding and correlation of patterns in the data. Draper’s expertise encompasses machine learning (including deep learning), information fusion from diverse and heterogeneous data sources, optimized coupling of data acquisition and analysis and novel methods for analysis of imagery and video data.

Materials Engineering & Microfabrication

Draper continues to develop its expertise in designing, characterizing and processing materials at the macro-, micro- and nanoscales. Understanding the physical properties and behaviors of materials at these various scales is vital to exploit them successfully in designing components or systems. This enables the development and integration of biomaterials, 3D printing and additive manufacturing, wafer fabrication, chemical and electrochemical materials and structural materials for application to system-level solutions required of government and commercial sponsors.

Media Contact

Media Relations

Contact Info: 
Strategic Communication

Media Relations