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Griffiss Institute seeks participants for defense startup accelerator program

By Traci DeLore (


ROME, N.Y. — The Griffiss Institute is looking for 10 teams to take part in a 12-week defense-innovation program, The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator, beginning in May.

The competition for the 10 slots is open to startups developing defense applications for artificial intelligence/machine learning, cyber, quantum, and unmanned aerial-system solutions with potential to improve national security and economic competitiveness.

The HUSTLE Defense Accelerator is an immersive training academy for seed-stage tech startups. It is offered at Innovare Advancement Center, an open innovation hub driven by the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (Rome Lab) to accelerate academic, industry, and government talent and technologies in areas critical to national security.

Selected teams should prepare to participate in a rigorous training program with expert trainers, coaches, and mentors from May 23 through Aug. 12. Participants will experience a two-track opportunity during the HUSTLE program, learning how to grow their business and how to successfully collaborate with the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government agencies to drive solutions to market. HUSTLE is short for “Helping Upstate Science + Technology Leaders + Entrepreneurs.”

The business track of the HUSTLE program will teach topics such as motivation, competition, customer discovery, business-model development, marketing and communications, intellectual property, and market entry. The government track topics include requirements for DoD, how to write a proposal for the DoD, how to handle confidential unclassified information, and basic DoD contracting rules and requirements.

Qualifying HUSTLE teams will have the opportunity to pitch for up to $300,000 in investments to scale their companies in the Mohawk Valley.

Funding for the program comes from a $2 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant from Empire State Development.

Interested teams can complete an online application at Applications are due by 2:14 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 14. At that time, no more than 20 teams will be selected to give a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the judges.

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