Two recent events created opportunities for Hanscom Air Force Base leaders to learn about MITRE and DoD programs and engagement in the Boston innovation ecosystem.

The Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association’s (AFCEA) New Horizons conference is an annual forum that brings together military and industry leaders to share insight into current challenges facing the Department of Defense and opportunities to tackle these challenges. On March 5, Marissa McCoy joined Col Mike McGinley from Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), Warren Katz from Air Force Techstars, and Kevin Quinlan from MD5 on the Sourcing Innovative Technology from Non-Traditional Suppliers panel. The moderators were Joe Bradley, director of engineering, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), and Joyce Sidopoulos from MassRobotics.

Each panelist represented an organization in the Boston innovation ecosystem that is working to rapidly deliver capabilities to the warfighter by lowering the barrier of entry for nontraditional industry. McCoy shared how MITRE’s Bridging Innovation team is a conduit between the federal government and nontraditional industry. Among other functions, the team:

  • provides problem definition workshops
  • embeds into technical centers of gravity (the Bridging team has offices at MassChallengeMassRoboticsAir Force Techstars)
  • scouts and matches capabilities that address government challenges
  • accelerates technologies through technical/domain mentoring and access to unique resources/networks
  • delivers capabilities through streamlined contracting.

The panelists also shared success stories of how their organization helped accelerate and transition technologies and highlighted the importance of collaborating across the ecosystem to most effectively deliver capabilities.

The AFCEA New Horizons panel (left to right): Joyce Sidopoulos, Mr. Joe Bradley, Col Mike McGinley, Warren Katz, Marissa McCoy, and Kevin Quinlan

The AFCEA New Horizons panel (left to right): Joyce Sidopoulos, Mr. Joe Bradley, Col Mike McGinley, Warren Katz, Marissa McCoy, and Kevin Quinlan


On March 27, over 100 leaders from AFLCMC joined startups from the Air Force Techstars accelerator at the MassRobotics-hosted Robotics Technology and Defense event in collaboration with Lockheed Martin Ventures and MITRE Bridging Innovation. Russ Graves led a panel on Defense Innovation Engagement Programs with panelist from DIU, AFWERX, MD5, and OSD’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office. Each panelist provided an overview of their program and discussed how they support the government in identifying needs and working through acquisition challenges, and how these programs also create opportunities for non-dilutive funding for startups with dual-use commercial solutions.

From L to R: Kevin Quinlan, Col Mike McGinley, Laz Gordon, Warren Katz, Hank Orjeula, Russ Graves


After the panel, Matt Liba, senior director of product management at FLIR Systems, provided the keynote. Liba was part of the robotics team that spun out of iRobot to form Endeavor Robotics, a startup developing robotic platforms for the military and law enforcement. Endeavor Robotics was acquired by FLIR this past February. To wrap up the event, startups from the Air Force Techstars accelerator gave minute pitches to the government audience.

Interested in learning more about Bridging Innovation or visiting the Bridging Innovation locations in the Seaport? Learn more at or contact Russ Graves or Marissa McCoy.

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