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  • SOSCIP Call for Proposals

    15 février 2020

    SOSCIP Call for Proposals

    Hello Members of the SOSCIP Community, Since 2012, SOSCIP has been Canada's leading R&D consortium dedicated to harnessing advanced computing to drive industry innovation. Our mission is to bring together industrial partners and academic researchers and provide them with advanced computing technologies and expertise to solve social, technical and business challenges. Thanks to your sustained support, SOSCIP has built an advanced ecosystem that is integrating state-of-the-art technologies alongside highly qualified personnel (HQP) trained to leverage those technologies and drive Ontario companies to the forefront. We are very excited to announce that SOSCIP is launching two new HPC platforms to meet the rising demand for GPU-Acceleration and Parallel-CPU access among the SOSCIP community. Highlights of the two systems are below and you can read the full description of the platforms on our webpage: GPU-Accelerated Platform The new SOSCIP GPU-Accelerated Platform is a high-performance GPU cluster powered by NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs and IBM Power9 CPUs. Mist is a collaboration between SOSCIP and SciNet, which consists of a total of 54 IBM AC922 servers each with 2×16 core Power9 GPU and 256GB RAM. Each compute node has 4 NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs with 32GB of RAM and CUDA capability 7.0 (Volta). This platform supports AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning frameworks and has the capability of accelerating Molecular Dynamics codes (NAMD, Gromacs, etc.) and other computationally intensive applications in computational chemistry, geophysics, next generation sequencing and astronomy. Parallel CPU Platform The new SOSCIP Parallel-CPU platform is a homogeneous high-performance system attached to the SciNet supercomputer Niagara, which is designed to enable large parallel jobs in order to optimize throughput of a range of scientific codes running at scale, energy efficiency, and network and storage performance and capacity. Each compute node (based on Lenovo SD530 server) has 40 Intel Skylake/Cascade-Lake cores with 202GB (188 GiB) of RAM. The platform is an ideal system for running parallel code that cannot obtain cost-efficient speedup through GPUs, such as Computational Fluid Dynamics codes (OpenFoam, Nek5000, etc) and Quantum Chemistry codes (VASP, CP2K, etc). Apply now! SOSCIP supports collaborative R&D projects that involve academic and industry researchers working together to solve challenging problems using SOSCIP's compute platforms. Download our application template and apply for priority access on these new platforms by March 6, 2020. For more information, please contact either Andrew Jones at or Amy Hackney at for advice and guidance in completing your application. We are happy to discuss and review all draft proposals ahead of the priority application deadline. We look forward to seeing what you can do with these amazing new systems! Best regards, Tibor Tibor Turi, Ph.D. P.Eng. Executive Director | SOSCIP

  • Bourse start-up du CRIAQ 2020

    4 février 2020

    Bourse start-up du CRIAQ 2020

    Bonjour, Je travaille actuellement pour le CRIAQ et je suis responsable du dossier de la bourse start-up. Pour une deuxième année, il me fait plaisir de vous confirmer le lancement de la « Bourse start-up du CRIAQ 2020 » (deux bourses de 10 000 $) qui s'est tenu le jeudi 23 janvier 2020 à Québec. Suite à ce lancement, nous sollicitons votre appui afin de faire parvenir les informations relatives à ce concours aux start-up intéressées. Dominique Pouliot Coordonnatrice projets spéciaux | Coordinator Special Projects Consortium de recherche et d'innovation en aérospatiale au Québec Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Québec 740, rue Notre-Dame Ouest, bureau 1400, Montréal (Québec) Canada H3C 3X6 T : +1 438 823-3775 | |

  • As tech startups catch DoD’s eye, big investors are watching

    31 janvier 2020

    As tech startups catch DoD’s eye, big investors are watching

    By: Jill Aitoro SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Private investors are not yet lining up to back defense startups, but they are paying close attention. Two factors have created an opening that could lure venture capitalists to defense investments: first, a few select venture-backed technology startups are gaining traction; and second, there's been a strategic shift in approach to weapons development from the U.S. Department of Defense, focusing more on information warfare and, as such, software. In the words of Mike Madsen, director of strategic engagement at the Pentagon's commercial tech hub, Defense Innovation Unit: "We're at a significant inflection point right now that will be visible through the lens of history.” Nonetheless, for the tech startups, it's been slow going, as discussed during a Defense News roundtable in California. For the second year, leadership from DoD and the tech community came together to discuss the state of the Pentagon's efforts to attract commercial startups — this time digging into the challenges and opportunities that come with investment in defense development. “We went into this eyes wide open, knowing full well that to the venture community, the math doesn't make sense. Making the choice to contribute to the advancement of artificial intelligence for DoD represented for us more of a mission-driven objective,” said Ryan Tseng, founder of artificial intelligence startup Shield AI. But early on, “we were fortunate to get the backing of Andreessen Horowitz, a top-tier venture fund. They're certainly leaning in, in terms of their thinking about defense technology — believing that despite the history, there might be a way to find an opening to create companies that can become economically sustainable and make substantial mission impact.” Shield AI has raised $50 million in venture funding since 2015, with more rounds expected. Indeed, a few key Silicon Valley investors have emerged as the exceptions to the rule, putting dollars toward defense startups. In addition to Andreessen Horowitz, which counts both Shield AI and defense tech darling Anduril in its portfolio, there's General Catalyst, which also invested in Anduril, as well as AI startup Vannevar Labs. And then of course there's Founders Fund. Led by famed Silicon investors Peter Thiel, Ken Howery and Brian Singerman, among others, the venture firm was an early investor in Anduril, as well as mobile mesh networking platform goTenna. Founders Fund placed big bets on Palantir Technologies and SpaceX in the early days, which paid off in a big way. Some of the early successes of these startups have “done an excellent job of making investors greedy,” said Katherine Boyle, an investor with General Catalyst. “There's a growing group who are interested in this sector right now, and they've looked at the success of these companies and [are] saying: ‘OK, let's learn about it.' ” Take Anduril: The defense tech startup — co-founded by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and Founders Fund partner Trae Stephens — has raised more than $200 million and hit so-called unicorn status in 2019, reaching a valuation of more than $1 billion. As the successes piled up, so did the venture capital funding. According to Fortune magazine, those investors included Founders Fund, 8VC, General Catalyst, XYZ Ventures, Spark Capital, Rise of the Rest, Andreessen Horowitz, and SV Angel. “I started my career at Allen & Company investment banking. Herbert Allen, who's in his 80s, always said: ‘Hey, you should run into an industry where people are running away,' ” said John Tenet, a partner with 8VC as well as a co-founder and vice chairman of defense startup Epirus. “There's so much innovation occurring, where the government can be the best and biggest customer. And there are people who really want to solve hard problems. It's just figuring out where the synergies lie, what the ‘one plus one equals three' scenario will be.” Also attracting the attention of Silicon Valley investors is the growing emphasis by the Pentagon not only on systems over platforms, but software over hardware. Boyle described the shift as the “macro tailwind” that often drives innovation in a sector. Similar revolutions happened in industrials and automotive markets — both of which are also massive, global and slow-moving. That emphasis on tech, combined with some recent hard lessons, also provides a glimmer of hope that the typical hurdles associated with defense investments — lengthy procurement cycles and dominance by traditional manufacturers, for example — could be overcome. Consider U.S. Code 2377, which requires that commercially available items be considered first in procurement efforts, said Anduril's Stephens. He also noted court decisions in lawsuits filed by SpaceX and Palantir, which ultimately validated claims that defense agencies had not properly ensured a level playing field for major competitions. “These types of things are now at least in recent memory for Congress, and so they have some awareness of the issues that are being faced,” Stephens said. “It's much easier now to walk into a congressional office and say, ‘Here's the problem that we're facing' or ‘Here's the policy changes that we would need.' There are also enough bodies like DIU, like In-Q-Tel, like AFWERX, like the Defense Innovation Board, like the [Defense Science Board] — places where you can go to express the need for change. And oftentimes you do see that language coming into the [National Defense Authorization Act]. It's part of a longer-term cultural battle for sure.” For now, all these factors contribute to the majority of skeptical investors' decisions to watch the investments with interest — even if they still take a wait-and-see approach. And that places a lot of pressure on the companies that are, in a sense, the proof of concept for a new portfolio segment. “My fear is that if this generation of companies doesn't figure [it] out, if they don't knock down the doors and if there aren't a few successes, we're going to have 20, 30 years of just no investor looking around the table and saying we need to work for the Department of Defense,” Boyle said. “If there aren't some success stories coming out of this generation of companies, it's going to be very hard to look our partners in the eye and say: ‘We should keep investing in defense because look at how well things have turned out.'”

  • Tech startups still face the Pentagon’s ‘valley of death’

    31 janvier 2020

    Tech startups still face the Pentagon’s ‘valley of death’

    By: Joe Gould WASHINGTON ― Brooklyn-based technology startup goTenna launched in 2014 with a candy bar-sized gadget that pairs with smartphones to create off-grid, no-network communications. Though it was originally a commercial product, the company has received millions of dollars' worth of government business since 2015, mostly with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security but also with Special Operations Command, the Air Force, the Navy and the Army. About 150,000 devices have shipped. The Army has spent millions of dollars with goTenna, but the service cannot give the company one of the most important things for a small business ― the certainty of recurring revenue. “Now the funding is out, and even the program officer for that program doesn't know where we go next within the Army,” goTenna founder and CEO Daniela Perdomo said at a Defense News-hosted roundtable in December. “That's in part why we've been spending more time, frankly, on civilian public safety. Because even though DHS is consistently [under funding restrictions], they seem to be moving. They seem to move faster.” That sort of inconsistency and confusion is why tech startups dealing with the Pentagon, as well as investors, so dread the gap between their innovative product's development and the Pentagon's sluggish decisions to launch. That gap has a nickname: “the valley of death.” The Pentagon has experimented with a variety of means to buy emerging technologies, an important goal as it seeks to preserve its edge against Russia and China. But one truism ― affirmed in a recent report from the Ronald Reagan Institute ― is that the federal government has been unable to fully adapt its practices to promote and harness private sector innovation, despite making strides. Addressing the House Armed Services Committee on Jan. 15, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said the valley of death between a product's development and the moment that product becomes part of a program of record remains an obstacle. She said that's partly because acquisitions officials don't use the new authorities granted by Congress over recent years. The excitement of receiving development money from the Department of Defense stands in stark contrast to what often follows. “[Startups] win the prototype competition: ‘Great, we love you.' And that's in, like, FY19,” Flournoy said. “And then they are told, ‘OK, we are going to have [a request for proposals] for you in '21,' and [the startups] are like: ‘OK, but what do I do in '20? I have got a 10-year hole in my business plan, and my investors are pressuring me to drop the work on DoD because it's too slow, it's too small dollars.'” How would Flournoy fix it? She advised the Pentagon to hire tech talent ― “smart buyers and developers and fielders of new technologies” ― and create a bridge fund for firms in competitive areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum computing. (The idea seemed to resonate with Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, who is the panel's top Republican and the author of multiple acquisitions reform laws passed in recent years.) At the Defense News roundtable, leaders from the tech community said not only has it been difficult for small businesses to enter an aerospace and defense market dominated by five major firms, but it's hard for startups to justify to investors that the government should be retained as a client when it is often the least decisive. “I think the fundamental misunderstanding between the DoD and venture investors is just how difficult it is to keep the wheels on a fast-growing startup,” said Katherine Boyle of venture capital firm General Catalyst. But the Pentagon is working to bridge the gap between prototype and production. Over the last year, the Defense Innovation Unit ― the department's outpost in Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; and California's Silicon Valley ― has launched two internal teams, for defense and commercial engagement, to envision these transitions and match them to the Pentagon's five-year budgeting process, according to DIU's director of strategic engagement, Mike Madsen. These teams are tasked with learning the needs of the services, working with commercial industry to develop prototypes to meet those needs and then helping market the prototypes more broadly within the Defense Department. Along these lines, DIU helped a company that developed a predictive maintenance application for the Air Force ― Redwood City, California-based ― win a predictive maintenance contract for Army ground vehicles. has since created a federal arm unit. A quarter of all prototypes awarded by DIU transitioned to programs of record, and another 50 percent are eligible for the transition. “It will take time for us to develop the right cultural instincts, but it's already happening,” said DIU's director of commercial engagement, Tom Foldesi. Anduril Industries co-founder and Founders Fund partner Trae Stephens has often criticized the DoD's approach to Silicon Valley. But speaking at the Defense News panel, he acknowledged progress through DIU's ability to harness the flexible other transaction authority, a congressionally mandated contracting mechanism that makes it easier to prototype capabilities. He also praised the Air Force's effort to rework Small Business Innovation Research funds to target more mature technologies. “I don't know who's responsible for banging the table about it over and over, but somebody is out there saying it," Stephens said. “It seems to be coming across in the messaging in some way.”

  • ‘The math doesn’t make sense’: Why venture capital firms are wary of defense-focused investments

    31 janvier 2020

    ‘The math doesn’t make sense’: Why venture capital firms are wary of defense-focused investments

    By: Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — In American's technology marketplace, venture capital funds are crucial for pumping capital into small companies in need of cash infusions to keep operating. Part of the venture capital model is acknowledging that many of those businesses will fail, but if a few are successful, venture capitalists can make huge returns on their investments. At a time when the Pentagon is working hard to entice small technology companies to work on defense projects, venture capital, or VC, funding could further mature technology and give entrepreneurs a chance to keep projects going. And yet, investors seem wary of putting forth cash to support companies with a defense focus. Why? In the wake of the very public fight inside Google over working with the Pentagon — which ended with the company pulling the plug on its Project Maven participation — there was a consensus from the defense establishment that there may be a culture gap that is simply too large to overcome. But according to a trio of venture capitalists who spoke to Defense News in December, the reasons are simpler. Katherine Boyle, with VC firm General Catalyst, said the culture issue is overblown for the VC community. The reluctance to work on defense programs comes down to a mix of “math and history," she said. "The math is the reason why investors are hesitant to put a third of their fund into these types of technologies because history shows us that they haven't worked out well,” Boyle explained. She said the math can be broken down into three factors: mergers, margins and interest rates. On the first, she pointed to the fact that the defense sector has seen thousands of firms exit the market, sometimes because of acquisitions by primes. But, she argued, where mergers and acquisitions tend to occur in other parts of the world to acquire new technology or capability, in the defense realm it's all about contracting value. That makes it “very difficult for new technologies to enter the market and ultimately be acquired at the valuations that venture investors would need to see in order to have a return for their fund.” In terms of margins, Boyle pointed out that defense firms are very focused on hardware, which requires a lot of investment upfront. That makes it “very difficult to invest in for venture capital firms because software has 80 percent margins, and it's much easier to build a company that can scale very quickly if it's software-based versus needing a lot of capital,” she said. The third factor, interest rates, ties into the last two. For decades interest rates have allowed VC firms to expand dramatically — something that requires a constant flow of return from investments in order to turn around funds and quickly invest in another opportunity. In the world of defense, investors with $3 billion to $5 billion under management by the VC community will find it difficult to get the kind of returns investors are accustomed to from other markets. All three of those factors come together in a mix that means there are very few chances for VC firms to invest in defense-related companies that match up with what a VC traditionally wants to see, said John Tenet, a partner with investment firm 8VC and vice chairman of the defense company Epirus. “VC investors invest based on speed and scale and probability of a 10 to 20 times return. And so I think that's where you've seen a little bit of apprehension, at least in [Silicon] Valley,” Tenet said. “The exits haven't been that fast, and you sort of have these five big players on one side [that] sort of monopolize the market.” From a pure numbers standpoint, a good benchmark for performance is to look at the S&P 500, according to Trae Stephens, co-founder and chairman of Anduril Industries and partner at Founders Fund. Over a 10-year period, an investor in the S&P can expect to get roughly 3 times their investment back. VC firms want to be able to beat that for an investment to be worth it. To highlight the challenge of attracting VC funding to defense firms with potentially limited return, Stephens pointed to the case of Blackbird Technologies. A venture-backed player in specialized communications tech aimed at the defense market, Blackbird was bought in 2014 by Raytheon for about $420 million. That looks good on paper, but the reality is the churn isn't strong enough for a big, Silicon Valley-based venture capital group. “A lot of times in the government, people say: ‘Oh, Blackbird is this, like, great example of a success story that was like a boost for venture.' It's actually not. It's not a venture scale of return for most funds,” he said. “There are some funds where the economics of [an exit that size] is really good, but for large, Silicon Valley tier-one funds, it doesn't move the needle. And so you have to have these multibillion-dollar opportunities in order for it to really make economic sense.” Another issue raised by Stephens will be familiar to defense primes as well: concerns over sharing intellectual property with the Defense Department. The department is essentially saying “you are the right product for us, now turn over your source code,” Stephens said. “It's crazy. We're literally doing to our companies in America what we're criticizing the Chinese for doing to their companies and to our companies when we enter that market. And so there has to be a better commercial practice for enabling companies to retain their IP and do business with the government without having to fight a legal battle every time they go through a contract.” ‘Knock down the doors' Despite those concerns, all three venture capitalists that spoke to Defense News are involved in investments in defense-focused firms. So why are they spending their money in the sector? Mission is part of it — the belief that, as Americans, a stronger Defense Department benefits their firms. But that only goes so far if dollars don't follow. Once again, it comes down to math. Investing in a company focused on defense technologies, which may have to wait years to secure a contract with the Pentagon, isn't a great strategy for a VC firm looking for quick returns. But if a company is able to get government funding early on, the business suddenly becomes more worthy of investment, said Boyle. “If the government is allocating capital in the right way, it will get VC dollars immediately. Like, it will follow so quickly,” Boyle said. “I see so many people come in to our office and they have an OTA [other transaction authority contract], and they're excited. It's a small, $1 million contract, and that is great for a seed company. But if that same company came in 18 months later and said, ‘Oh, by the way, the OTA has turned into a $10 million contract,' that would meet every milestone that I usually see to series A.” (An OTA is a type of contract that enables rapid prototyping; series A financing is the investment that follows growth from initial seed capital used to launch operations.) “$10 million to the US government is nothing, but to [a] startup — $10 million is the best startup I've seen all year, if they're an 18-month-old startup and they're getting that kind of capital early on,” she said. Added Stephens: “It means they're doing something right.” That creates a chicken and egg scenario: Venture capitalists only want to invest in companies that already have a Pentagon contract, but small firms often can't keep the doors open long enough without external funding while waiting for the department's contracting processes to progress. While groups such as the Defense Innovation Unit — the Pentagon's technology hub — are helping speed along that process, it remains a problem with no easy solution, at a time when the Pentagon needs the nondefense technology community in ways it hasn't for decades. Boyle believes there is a “growing group” of investors who see the strong success of a handful of companies like goTenna, Anduril or Shield AI that have managed to break through and become successful defense-focused investment vehicles. That means the next few years are going to be critical for everyone involved. “None of us would be here if we weren't optimistic,” she said. “I actually think this is an incredible time to be investing in deep tech, particularly deep-tech companies that are selling to the Department of Defense because if it doesn't happen now, it never will.”

  • Last Week to Submit for Innovation Days in Austin

    16 décembre 2019

    Last Week to Submit for Innovation Days in Austin

    The Army is looking for new technology that can be in the hands of Soldiers by 2023. So we're inviting companies to share their ideas for the chance to "pitch" us during Innovation Days in Austin and earn a new Army contract. To be considered, submit your concept through our online portal, which guides you through the required information in a Turbo Tax® style. You can find more information on what to include in this quick overview or via the announcement. You may not know all of the answers, and that's ok. The more technical details, visuals, and vision you can share to illustrate your technology, the better we'll be able to assess it against the Army's needs. The deadline to submit concepts for this event is 4:00pm ET on December 20, 2019. We can't wait to see what you've got!

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