Dual-use Ventures IAP Course

How to Navigate Your Tech Startup in Government and Commercial Markets

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
9:00AM to 6:00PM (lunch included)
Tang Center: E51-372


Course Description

This course is for students who want to learn useful and actionable steps to launch and build dual-use ventures (DuV). A dual-use venture is one that targets both government and commercial (enterprise and/or consumer) customers with a core focus being on government customers in defense and national security, but not limited to that sector. We’ll discuss frameworks, funding opportunities, entrepreneurial roadmaps, and government resources. Topics in this course are particularly relevant to aspiring MIT entrepreneurs interested in learning more about working with the Department of Defense (DoD) and other large government customers.

We divide this course into three key parts:

  1. Introduction and Framework.
  2. Entrepreneur Stories. A few dual-use venture founders will talk about their journey navigating two distinct markets: government and commercial.
  3. Government and Accelerator Connectors. Each guest will talk about their program, its intended audience, and why or why not it might be right for you.

Immediately after the event, we invite all students and guests to join in a networking event.

This course is for MIT students and community members who are interested in learning more about how to navigate both government and commercial markets.

Course Thesis

Startups can be purposeful about designing their company in such a way as to pursue both commercial and government (Federal, state and international) opportunities. This requires being informed, prepared and ready to define these dual market opportunities and to be aware of the challenges that duality presents and making the appropriate tradeoffs.

Why is MITii hosting this course?

MITii’s work on Mission Innovation focuses on examining and understanding the opportunities and challenges mission-driven innovation —  innovation focused on solving major social and economic challenges. While there are many customers for mission innovation solutions, governments are often critical customers.  However, even while many of MIT’s students, staff and faculty have potential solutions to government challenges, we find that education on the topic of navigating the role of government – as a potential customer, source of funding and provider of testing infrastructure – is limited.  Our MITii short course is an opportunity to provide a more systematic approach to creating and building a dual-use venture – the opportunities, challenges and trade-offs involved.  Having such a dual-use approach may provide access to two pools of funding, two distinctive customer groups, and two different markets.  However, duality also means navigating two complex contexts instead of one.  By offering this course, we are outlining a clear path and systematic method for understanding what it takes to build a dual use venture – one that can capture both commercial and government opportunities – so that entrepreneurs are more fully prepared to make this choice.

Time & Location

This IAP course will occur on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 from 9 am to 6 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). The course will take place in E51-372. Breakfast, lunch, and hors’ oeuvres are included.

Students should:

  • Bring to class an example of a dual-use venture that exists in the world today (and why is it a DuV)
  • Be prepared to discuss the student’s own dual-use venture, startup, or aspirations related to either

Optional but recommended – prepare ahead of the class:


Part 1: Introduction and Framework (0900 – 1215)

Time Module Presenter
0900 – 0945 What is a dual-use venture? Why do dual-use ventures matter? Why pursue a dual-use venture (& why not)? Fiona Murray, MITii
0945 – 1030 How do you determine whether a dual-use venture makes sense for your start-up?


Warren Katz, AFWERX-Tech Stars
1045 – 1100 MITii dual-use framework discussion Gene, MITii
1100 – 1130 How do you conduct meaningful customer discovery and engagement in the government market?


Mike McGinley, DIU
1130 – 1215 How does a company become DuV-ready? Learn about ITAR, CFIUS, and government legal and contracting jargon. Government IP Philosophy and how best to negotiate to preserve your company’s IP. Katy Person

1215 – 1245 Break to grab bagged lunch

Part 2: Entrepreneur Speakers (Working Lunch) (10 – 15 minutes each) moderated by Christian Melton, MassChallenge (12:45 – 2:45 pm)

Time Module Presenter
1245 – 1315 Entrepreneur Story and Q&A Felipe Gomez, FGC Plasma (Hypersonic Engine)


1315 – 1345 Entrepreneur Story and Q&A Shahriar Khushrushahi, Notch Technologies


1345 – 1415 Entrepreneur Story and Q&A Veronika Stelmakh, Mesodyne


1415 – 1445 Entrepreneur Story and Q&A Gene Dolgin, ClimaCell


1445 – 1500 Break

Part 3: Specialized Resources for Dual-Use Ventures – Government Funds, Accelerators, VC Programs (1500 – 1700)

Time Module Speakers
1500 – 1515 Introduction to specialized resources for dual-use ventures  – funding, testing, mentoring Fiona Murray, MITii
1515 – 1545 How do you pursue government funding? Example of AFWERX programs (SBIR, STTR, early stage, accelerator partnerships, etc.) Kyle Palko, Jared Evans, AFWERX
1545 – 1615 How to license national and defense lab IP Will Dickson, Fedtech.io
1615 – 1700 How do you pursue venture capital funding for dual-use ventures? Jonathan Miller, MITii; Steve Taub, IQT; Orin Hoffman, The Engine

Part 4: Networking Event (5 – 7 pm)

  • Shy Bird: One Broadway (at the corner of Third Street)