Ukraine’s new Defense Builder Accelerator looks to catalyze defense innovation

Defense Builder Accelerator
  • Ukraine debuts the Defense Builder Accelerator, a new defense tech initiative
  • The four-month intensive training program targets Ukrainian defense startups, facilitating their transition from initial “garage” production to the establishment of fully-fledged tech companies by securing crucial initial investments.
  • The program aims to enable the development of solutions that address real battlefield requirements, granting participating startups access to capital and investor networks upon program completion.

The Defence Builder Accelerator program was crafted in collaboration with leaders of the Ukrainian tech ecosystem, including Genesis, Sigma Software Labs, and the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE). 

The accelerator was founded by Ivan Kaunov, an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and its CEO, together with COO Kateryna Bezsudna. 

Prior to the accelerator, the duo founded their own defence startup, Buntar Aerospace, which develops software and UAVs for long-range reconnaissance missions. Buntar Aerospace recently raised $2M from several international VCs and is working on increasing the survival rate of ISR UAVs up to tenfold using AI and Ukrainian first-hand experience on the modern battlefield.

The acceleration program is open to startups that are developing both software and/or hardware defence tech solutions: UAVs, UGVs, USVs, EW and ES, software, demining solutions, cybersecurity, avionics, sensors and others. To qualify, teams need to have the TRL-4 level of the product or higher .  

“The main factors of advantage in modern warfare are smart technologies. The combination of military experience, technological background, and business skills will allow us to create a new vertical of Ukrainian defence technologies with a global focus,” Kaunov said. 

The accelerator is ready to connect verified investors with defence startups, which presents an exclusive opportunity to access Ukraine’s booming defence technology sector. As the team behind the accelerator points out, they are open to collaboration with angels, VCs, corporate ventures, and other investors.

Illustration from Defense Builder Accelerator

The program has more than 30 mentors, leaders of tech companies with experience in creating and scaling complex technological products. Any potential advisors need to have military personnel with first-hand combat experience, with a deep understanding of battlefield needs. 

Among mentors of the program are Mikhaylo Rogalsky, co-founder of Monobank; Oleksandr Solovei, co-founder at Finmap; Misha Rudominskiy, co-founder at Promin Aerospace and Himera; Daria Yaniieva, Investment Director at Sigma Software Labs and others.

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