The Firestarter Fellowship is a DEF program which invests directly in people on the leading edge of solving the most critical challenges in national security innovation. We identify and invest in individuals with ideas that have potential to positively impact defense and national security missions. The Firestarter Fellowship is open to all US citizens. Preference will be given to those working within the Department of Defense or veterans working in similar government agencies on national security problems.
Firestarter applicants pitch the DEF on a project to develop a prototype which meets a unique need in the defense community. This isn’t your typical “fellowship.” Sure, you’ll fill out an application, but there is no one typical “fellow.” Some fellows may have mature projects they’ve worked on for years. Some may be just starting out. In order to be selected for the DEF Firestarter Fellowship, you must convince us why you should be a fellow. What’s your story? Who are you, what is your dream, and why does it matter?
Fellows will meet on a bi-weekly basis to discuss project development, challenges and successes, as well as having the opportunity to participate in mentoring sessions and virtual roundtables with other thinkers in the defense entrepreneurial space. Over the course of 6 months, selected Fellows receive tailored mentorship, advocacy, and initial funding up to $1,000 to develop their idea into a tangible solution. Firestarter funding is used for the Fellows’ professional development as innovators in support of their proposed project and its impact.
Fellows present project outcomes to the community at the DEF annual conference, and those projects with results and the highest potential for community impact are then selected for additional funding and sponsorship through the network of donors and leaders supporting our virtuous insurgency.