MoD partners with Aerospace Xelerated via DASA

Posted on 27 September, 2021 by Advance 

Aerospace Xelerated has announced that the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has joined as a programme partner through the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

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Applications are currently open for Aerospace Xelerated's third cohort, with the programme being led by industry partner Boeing.

DASA finds and funds innovation to support UK national security quickly and effectively and support UK prosperity. On behalf of the MoD, DASA will support startups by providing insights from and access to front line commands, aligning them with MOD’s interest in national security and innovation priorities.

Anita Friend, Head of DASA, commented: "The MoD is keen to understand how early engagement between start-ups and MoD in programmes such as this can lead to improved outcomes for Defence and for the companies involved. By partnering in Aerospace Xelerated and helping the companies understand the needs and opportunities provided by defence, we hope to accelerate our own learning as well as theirs.”

Nichola Bates, Managing Partner at Aerospace Xelerated and Head of Global Accelerators and Innovation Programmes at Boeing commented: “As a programme we’ve already been fortunate enough to work with the DASA team as mentors and experts and I’m delighted they’ve joined as the lead for MoD’s partnership in our third year.

"They bring not only their expertise to our cohort but also provide access to wider MoD capabilities. There is a great opportunity for startups applying to our programme to learn from the team and make valuable connections that will make a difference to their businesses. We’ve had applications from all over the world so far, and we’re encouraging startups to get applications in early before they close on October 8th.”

Aerospace Xelerated will be investing into startups building autonomous and AI solutions that advance the way aircraft are built, from the factory floor all the way to the passenger journey.

The two previous cohorts have gone on to raise £20 million in additional funding and create over 100 jobs across the UK. Organisations to work with past cohorts as partners or mentors include GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, PwC, Chevron Technology Ventures and easyJet. Further programme partners will be announced in the coming weeks.

Startups accepted on the programme will benefit from an optional £100k equity investment from Boeing. They will also have access to strategists and technical experts from industry and support in developing proof of concept opportunities.

Through Aerospace Xelerated, startups will be introduced to a network of angels, venture capitalists and the wider aerospace industry, throughout the 12-week programme and wider ecosystem events. Successful companies will also receive mentoring from a global network of experienced entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, plus over £100k in programme perks from partners including startup providers Google, Amazon, Stripe, Digital Ocean and many more.

Aerospace Xelerated is looking for startups across the following areas; assured autonomy; autonomous navigation; generative design; smart maintenance; adaptive learning; reduced workload and Aerospace AI Applications. Companies must be late seed-stage, software only and working with AI or autonomous technology.

Key Programme Themes

Startups working on the following sectors are welcome to apply:
1. Assured Autonomy

Develop technologies assuring safe operation of autonomous flight functionality, including but not limited to AI/ML functions, on autonomous vehicles.

Assurance technologies include design-time techniques for more robust neural nets, run-time monitoring, and tools for building assurance cases to provide evidence of system safety to certification authorities.

2. Autonomous Navigation

AI applied to autonomous navigation using perception algorithm solutions for unpiloted/unmanned/driverless environments.

3. Generative Design

AI applied to generative design to explore all the possible permutations of a solution, learning from each iteration to quickly generate design alternatives.

4. Smart Maintenance

AI applied to predictive analytics on maintenance data to develop smart maintenance solutions.  

5. Adaptive Learning

AI applied to predictive and prescriptive analytics for training of learners based on their role and performance history. Learners have a diverse set of skills, abilities and backgrounds and include pilots and mechanics.

6. Reduced Workload

Flight automation technologies that reduce crew workload by providing robustness and reliability to automate routine flight tasks

(Not public: Cognitive, physical, onboard processing)

7. Novel Aerospace AI Applications

AI applied to aerospace applications other than those described herein

Selection Criteria:

Late seed-stage


Traction-stage with Proof of Concepts or contracts already in place

Not necessarily already in the aerospace sector

Working on AI or Autonomy

Andre Wegner, Founder and CEO, Authentise said: "We’ve had some really engaged corporate mentors, as well as people from industry lobbies and of course the accelerator team themselves. Several of them have gone beyond their call of duty and will stay on important sounding boards for a long time to come."

Veera Johnson, Co-Founder, Circulor said: "The biggest highlight is the introduction into direct, potential clients and our conversations within GKN Aerospace and Boeing. We’ve also gained new insights around how to consider investment options. There have been some great sessions that reminded us what good teams look like and on that note, there are many activities happening around the programme like team socials and ongoing cohort support after the 12-week programme finishes.”

"It’s been great to introduce some of our personal contacts to the accelerator to benefit the wider ecosystem. I have not seen a programme in the last 4–5 years that is quite like this and we want to show our contacts, particularly in the government, that this is what good looks like."

Andy Hakes, Founder and CEO, AireXpert commented: "When we started the programme, we knew that there were a number of persistent problems for us across the business - from finance and investment, to product, to marketing etc. It became very obvious, very quickly, that the programme team understood those challenges from the perspective of the entrepreneur and early stage businesses. That was reflected in the quality and quantity of the people they brought in to help us resolve those challenges. All of the programme content was immensely helpful in guiding us through those problems. Coming out of the accelerator, we were much better placed to raise capital, the energy level around what we do has increased significantly in a short amount of time and most importantly, we feel like we’ve got a good grip on the challenges we faced pre-programme."

Gianmaria Bullegas, Co-Founder and CEO, Perpetual Labs said: "In addition to the pre-seed investment from Boeing, the accelerator has been great in providing the industry connections we needed. Being an industry-specific accelerator programme with industry sponsors, we got the opportunity to both learn from aerospace experts as well as explore collaborative product development projects with both Boeing and GKN Aerospace."

Dr John Waite, Co-Founder and CEO, Phycobloom said: “The programme team can turn good companies into great companies. If that’s not acceleration, I don’t know what is. They brought in mentors and expertise – to help to develop culture, strategy, hiring plans etc. – that made our company a more enjoyable place to work, as well as a more productive and successful business. The advice the programme team gave was truly first class.”

Aerospace Xelerated is a three-month funded programme for exceptional autonomy and AI startups striving to advance the future of aerospace.

The current cohort will run January - April 2022 and offers a £100k equity investment per startup from The Boeing Company as well as firsthand access to Boeing, their industry partners, subject matter experts, and much more.

Applications close at 12pm on 8th October 2021.


Startups can apply