The Pentagon is seeking to keep up with the rapid pace of technology through a group of venture capitalists called the Defense Venture Catalyst Initiative (DeVenCI), who are helping connect the military with companies who build products that could benefit the defense agencies.

“We identify innovative companies that are usually small, with an emerging product that can meet Defense Department needs,” said Glenn Fogg, director of the DeVenci program and head of the Defense Department’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office.

On April 25 and 26 in McLean, Va., DeVenci officials listened to 33 sales pitches from green energy businesses that made the cut from an initial pool of 160. These companies will seek to fill 50 different energy-related requirements from the Department of the Navy, Fogg said in National Defense Magazine.

The DeVenCI program was launched two years ago as 26 venture capitalists who were willing to help the Pentagon, free of charge, spot promising companies to do business with. To prevent conflicts of interests, the VCs are required to choose suppliers based strictly on whether they can fill a Pentagon need and not profit from any transactions. While it may seem strange for the Pentagon, which spends roughly $400 billion each year on products and services, to find the right supplies, it’s often the size and scope of typical acquisitions that can make it difficult to drill down into unique, or pressing needs. Enter venture capitalists, who often look outside their own portfolios to bring innovative solutions to defense agencies needing assistance.

Over the past year and a half, 376 companies have been nominated for consideration. After the Defense Department reviewed their submissions, 99 of them were invited to give a 25-minute presentation to government officials and VCs and 25 of those received government funds to have their products tested. Only 10 companies have been selected to provide products.

Xceedium was one of them. The company helps organizations safely provide third parties, such as contractors or vendors, access to their IT assets. Through DeVenCI, the company was able to expand from a pilot deployment in a single Pentagon office to multiple offices and help the Department of Homeland Security. DeVenCI’s technology wish list includes green energy, wireless communications, cybersecurity and data mining products.

Companies selected so far include:

  • UltraCell Corp., of Livermore, Calif., which developed a fuel cell for mobile devices.
  • Avaak, of San Diego, with a wireless multimodal sensor.
  • Xceedium Inc., of Herndon, Va., which provides “access control” to secure areas based on identity.
  • CommsFirst, of Peachtree City, Ga., with a solar-powered backpack emergency radio system.

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Chandler Harris is a freelance business and technology writer located in Silicon Valley. He has written for numerous publications including Entrepreneur, InformationWeek, San Jose Magazine, Government Technology, Public CIO,, U.S. Banker, Digital Communities Magazine, Converge Magazine, Surfer's Journal, Adventure Sports Magazine,, and the San Jose Business Journal. Chandler is also engaged in helping companies further their content marketing needs through content strategy, optimization and creation, as well as blogging and social media platforms. When he's not writing, Chandler enjoys his beach haunt of Santa Cruz where he rides roller coasters with his son, surfs and bikes across mountain ranges.