NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Over the weekend of October 14th, the newly launched MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator, a public-private partnership between the Department of Defense (DoD), New York University (NYU) and a large network of top U.S. research universities, convened the first MD5 hackathon bringing together researchers, entrepreneurs, first responders and military personnel to develop solutions for major disaster relief challenges. The winning teams and concepts included:
- Squad Sanctuary: Demonstrated a smartphone-based tool that connects civilians with first-responders during a disaster. The Squad Sanctuary solution operates without cellphone networks and allows for the efficient allocation of first-responder resources to rapidly changing disaster situations.
- Squad EL Tags: Demonstrated a proof-of-concept of an RFID tracking system that can enable floor-level tracking of firefighters in a high-rise building. The EL Tags solution could be applied to every high-rise in New York City to improve firefighter safety and response during emergency situations.
- Squad Visual Ops: Demonstrated a smartphone-based, team-planning system for disaster relief personnel. The Squad Visual Ops solution incorporates advanced information management technology to improve the planning and execution of distributed emergency response operations.
The winning squads, selected by a panel of judges representing academia, industry and government, reflect a diverse group of innovators who came together to develop solutions with MD5. Members of the winning squads included a trio of US Marine and Army veterans, a group of women with backgrounds in technology and social entrepreneurship, a tech-savvy former high school teacher and a furniture designer. Each winning squad will each receive up to $15K of funding and will partner with MD5, the US Army Strategic Studies Group and the New York Fire Department (FDNY) over the coming months to refine and test their concepts.
“Every one of our participating squads brought their best to the table this weekend,” said Adam Jay Harrison, director of MD5. “We are excited to continue working with the winning teams to showcase how true public-private collaboration can transform DoD and commercial technology into actionable solutions and products that solve the most pressing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief challenges.”
The launch event drew over 100 participants from various backgrounds comprising 20 teams that were advised by mentors from the FDNY, the US Army and the New York City entrepreneur community. The collaboration with mentors from FDNY was a highlight of the event, with many teams pivoting their concepts based on the direct feedback from the first responders.
“Participating in this event and seeing the potential that true public-private sector R&D collaboration can have was such a wonderful opportunity” said FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard, who was a member of the event’s panel of judges. “As someone who oversees and coordinates emergency services for a city of nearly 10 million people, reviewing the ideas that were developed by this diverse group of men and women was very exciting. I can see these solutions playing a vital role in our own assistance & rescue operations for the years ahead.”
The hackathon marked the official launch of MD5, a public-private partnership that promotes civil-military technology collaboration and commercialization of DoD technologies for the public good. MD5 will continue working with the four winning teams to further develop and mature their prototype solutions through a combination of development funding, technical resources, education and infrastructure. The support of MD5 will allow these teams – and future participants – to evolve their concepts to the point where VCs and other investors can step in to mature or scale the most promising opportunities.
To learn more about MD5, please visit https://md5.net
The MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator is a public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, NYU and a large network of top U.S. research universities that promotes civil-military technology collaboration. MD5 does not make dilutive investments in technology startups. Instead, it provides the tools, training and access to DoD assets like infrastructure and intellectual property that empower entrepreneurs to build businesses that make a difference. By creating high-impact ventures based on non-sensitive Defense technology, MD5 is reclaiming DoD’s historical role at the center of the nation’s commercial technology value chain.
In the coming months, MD5 will be rolling out programming across each of its three portfolios of activity. The ‘Education’ portfolio trains entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to life. The ‘Collaboration’ portfolio, which includes its hackathon events, connects skilled innovators to solve pressing challenges. The ‘Acceleration’ portfolio provides the resources and infrastructure needed to turn an idea into a scalable product or venture.