Navigating the Rise of Dual-Use Technology

Explore the transformative era of dual-use technology, where startups lead the charge in innovation for defense and HLS, and how SOSA HLS bridges gaps and fosters collaborations for a safer future.

SOSA's Editorial Team
January 2024

In the past, defense organizations spearheaded R&D and introduced new tech to the civilian market. It was traditionally defense organizations that led research and development, creating breakthrough technologies that often found applications in civilian industries. We are now seeing a shift where startups are at the forefront of technological breakthroughs, allowing innovations that were initially conceived for civilian applications to be used for defense innovation. 

This transition is the essence of dual-use technology, as innovations originally designed for one purpose find unexpected relevance when applied to the complex challenges faced in the defense and homeland security sectors.

Dual-Use Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities

With the complexity of the global security landscape, there has never been a greater need to advance security measures. Dual-use technologies, initially developed for commercial purposes, hold the potential to bridge the gap and meet the expanding needs of defense and HLS sectors.

On the other hand, as startups face economic uncertainties, the dual-use technology model becomes increasingly attractive. The ability to pivot seamlessly between civilian and security applications not only ensures relevance but also opens doors to a wider array of opportunities. Moreover, the increasing budgets of defense and HLS organizations introduce a substantial market opportunity.

However, startups face challenges navigating the complex defense and HLS landscape, where understanding specific needs and regulations is crucial. In many cases, startups may not be aware that their technology can address a pressing need in these markets that may initially seem inaccessible.

On the flip side, defense and HLS organizations struggle to find and assess technologies that align with their requirements, hindering collaboration. Communication barriers further impede the adoption of innovative startups' solutions.

SOSA's Crucial Role at the Intersection

As a key player at the intersection of civilian and security technologies, SOSA understands the challenges startups face in navigating the HLS landscape. SOSA acts as a bridge between startups and HLS organizations, understanding their needs and constraints simultaneously.

SOSA collaborates with government entities such as Singapore's Home Team Science and Technology Agency and The Israeli Ministry of Defense, as well as leading corporates in the domain such as Leonardo, Rafael, and IAI-ELTA, supporting them in their search for cutting-edge technologies to support their needs. Besides scouting for startups, SOSA also builds and operates accelerators, provides grants for proof-of-concepts (POCs), manages them, guides the startups in the journey to adapt their technology, and fosters business relationships to fast-track growth.

The SOSA-HTX accelerator, created in partnership with the Singapore government, illustrates SOSA's global influence, as we work together to validate emerging dual-use technologies from global startups that could have a game-changing impact on public safety and security. Increasing interest in using dual-use defense technology expertise to enhance safety and security measures worldwide is driving this international collaboration.

SOSA acts as a facilitator, bringing together startups and defense agencies/HLS organizations, facilitating communication, and fostering mutually beneficial partnerships. Through their network, they connect startups with potential partners, provide guidance, mentorship, and assist in adapting technologies to meet the specific requirements of the defense and HLS sectors. This collaborative approach accelerates the adoption of promising dual-use technologies and drives innovation within both industries.

The Dual-Use Approach: Success Stories

As an example of this approach's success, Wonder Robotics stands out. As Wonder Robotics transitioned from a civilian-oriented approach to thriving in defense applications, SOSA HLS played a vital role. Through Innofense and HTX accelerator programs, SOSA HLS guided the startup to success. This collaborative journey resulted in collaborations with industry leaders, substantial VC backing of over $3 million, showcasing the impactful role of dual-use technologies in the defense market for startups. 

A more recent example is the five startups selected to participate in the Hatch's Open Innovation Challenge organized by HTX and Sosa. In Singapore, these technologies, initially focused on breast cancer screening or drone-based deliveries, demonstrated their adaptability. HTX and SOSA's guidance led these startups to pivot to extraordinary applications, including wall-sticking drones and advanced indoor navigation, demonstrating the versatility and impact of dual-use technologies.

The traditional dominance of defense-led R&D is shifting to startups, and collaborating globally, SOSA supports the search for cutting-edge technologies, fostering innovation. Through initiatives like the SOSA-HTX accelerator, SOSA drives international collaboration, connecting startups with defense agencies and shaping the future of safety & security solutions.

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