Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) first announced the EMERGE Accelerator program for Wearable Technology for First Responders to reach entrepreneurs with innovative ideas. After issuing a nationwide call for applicants throughout the entrepreneurial community, the program selected 20 startups and second-stage companies from more than 100 candidates, and has helped innovators to develop and launch their ideas into investable companies.
Through the EMERGE Accelerator Program innovators have received early market validation, mentoring and access to private investment for their solutions that help the “responder of the future” save lives and carry out their mission. These new ideas focus in the area of wearable technologies, such as body-worn electronics, advanced sensors, and integrated voice and data communications embedded in a responder’s gear.
“We have to be able to integrate the expanding technological capabilities within our first responders’ tool kits, their personal protective equipment, and within their decision making abilities,” explained DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Robert Griffin, a former firefighter and emergency manager. “We sought innovators with ideas for the latest scientific advancements, knowing that sometimes, these technologies aren’t developed in a commercial laboratory or a major industrial company. The EMERGE program is one way we’re charting that path.”
Through the EMERGE Accelerator Program, S&T sought to find emerging technology that could be used with minor modifications for first responder operations. S&T's First Responder Group is working across the wearable technology space and looking at such solutions as body-worn electronics, protective equipment and materials, and embedded voice and data communications systems to help develop the Responder of the Future.
“Our EMERGE Accelerator Program is one part of S&T’s overall strategy to reinvigorate federal government research and development,” Griffin emphasized. “Through prize competitions, open dialogues, and other accelerator programs, S&T is hoping to attract innovators, keeping pace with the speed of technological advancement.”
EMERGE participants received first-rate education in business development and worked mentors from around the business world to create the next generation of innovation in wearable technology. The program accelerated the technology development by providing early market validation, test and evaluation opportunities, and paths to introduce those technologies to a variety of markets.
On September 23, EMERGE participants will demonstrate their technology concepts and prototypes to the investor community and industry in San Francisco, California. Demo Day will showcase a wide range of innovative technologies such as mouth guards that use bone conduction technology for communication; devices for sensory impaired users that can help first responders locate people in challenging environments; a triage language translator for patients to communicate with first responders; and protective gloves with embedded equipment controls to remotely control devices.
After the showcase, EMERGE participants will work on testing and evaluating their technologies with first responders, and future funding sources to further develop viable technologies.
The EMERGE! Accelerator program was developed in partnership with the United States Air Force Academy, DHS Center of Innovation, and the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT).
To learn more about the EMERGE Accelerator program, visit www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/accelerator or www.cit.org.emerge/. Follow the program on Twitter @DHSSciTech at #TechEMERGE.