Primarily known for systems engineering and technical assistance (SETA) and integration work, SAIC may have raised some eyebrows upon investing in startup accelerators.
SETA providers support government customers with analysis and engineering services in a consulting capacity. SAIC and select other companies in our industry have long succeeded by providing SETA services to the government but are now challenging that paradigm.
If the SETA model is familiar, comfortable, and successful, why mess with it?
Think of SAIC as a living, evolving, responsive being. SETA business has been a steady part of our diet for a long time. It has worked well. At the same time, we have expanded our palate to include delivering outcomes for government customers, and that is working, too.
Solution needs are changing
Our markets and our customers’ missions are evolving and getting more complex. Traditional, years-long capability development and acquisition are becoming less viable. Speed and agility are in, requiring changes to our diet.
Customers want to rapidly field new capabilities and transition them effectively into operations. They also want to prove out emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and blockchain in support of their missions, while making progress on modernization and transformation efforts.
Our solutions power the outcomes we provide to our customers. The fuel for producing these solutions comes from innovative technologies and capabilities we develop on our own or consume from commercial sources.
SAIC continually looks for new and exciting sources of fuel to produce better solutions and outcomes faster for our customers’ missions. Startup accelerators and hungry emerging tech companies, working with AI and ML, are important parts of our new diet.
A 2015 Harvard Business Review article, by Ian Hathaway, describes it excellently: “Startup accelerators support early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship, and financing. Startups enter accelerators for a fixed period of time, and as part of a cohort of companies. The accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young, innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months.”
SAIC Innovation Factory concept
SAIC has several initiatives to increase involvement with innovative startups and accelerator programs. In these partnerships, we will apply our domain expertise and leverage emerging technologies to solve specific problems for our customers and deliver complex technical solutions quicker.
The initiatives involve:
- The space-focused Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator
- An office at Austin, Texas’ Capital Factory innovation hub
- Our office in St. Louis’ T-REX geospatial tech hub
- Catalyst Campus, a Colorado-based aerospace and defense innovation ecosystem
- A strategic partnership with Franklin Venture Partners, providing exposure and investment opportunities in innovative startups
They form the innovation ecosystem providing technology reach-back in our Innovation Factory, which we launched to provide government customers rapid development and delivery of advanced technical solutions.
Space is a domain of growing importance by the day. The 2020 federal budget has outlays of $21 billion for NASA and $13.8 billion (a 17 percent increase) for DoD space programs.