What are the key objectives of DBX?

DBX is designed as an experiment to test an alternate approach that would more quickly commercialize technologies that benefit our nation's defense. The objective is to leverage the speed and scale of the commercial market to accelerate production of defense-relevant technologies and build the domestic industrial base.

How is DBX different than the traditional DoD approach to technology development?

Most DoD programs identify a technology that can meet its needs and then fund that development, hoping that the company commercializes the offering so that the DoD can leverage it later as dual-use. Too often, that commercialization does not happen. DBX focuses on commercialization up front to accelerate time to market and better position DoD to leverage existing commercial offerings.

How do I go about saving a partially completed form?

It is not possible to save a partially completed form. We provide a Word document version, so you can outline your responses and organize your thoughts before entering and submitting them. You can download that here at the top of the page.

How will DBX work?

DBX will accept applications from U.S. companies that have electronics technologies or materials that are commercially viable and are of interest to the DoD. Those applications will be evaluated, with finalists selected to pitch in person at the end of November. A panel of investors, industry and government will hear the pitches and select 5-10 awardees that will each receive between $500,000 and $2 million.

What makes this challenge different than other DoD challenges?

The DBX challenge is an experiment to determine if focusing first on commercialization accelerates timelines from R&D to production. This approach should enable the DoD to have more readily reliable sources of dual-use technologies.

What will be the period of performance?

The period of performance may range from six- to eighteen-months. More details are contained in the DBX application.

Is US incorporation a requirement for submission or would incorporation/relocation (for a mobile early stage startup) be an option, if successful?

While US incorporation is not required for submission, it will be required for selection as a finalist.

Does the PI have to have DOD clearance?


Is this open to large business enterprise or is it limited to small businesses?

Any size of business is eligible.

Would a letter of support from a prime contractor (such as Raytheon) work as evidence of DoD interest?


Is having pending patent of the IP would it help as added benefit?

This would likely help in your commercialization plan since you have taken some steps already to protect the IP

What is the required TRL level to enter the accelerator?

Our target level is TRL 3 with some proof of concept or validation per DoD TRL definitions

Is this only for US persons? Can non-US persons who started a company in the US apply?

U.S. incorporated companies can apply. A permanent resident is considered a U.S. persons. Non permanent residents with a work VISA can be considered foreign interest and would not be qualified.

I would very much like to tell you about my company's new nanotech, but it has only now getting to lab tests and we don't have connections in the DOD for letters of Support and we don't have SBIRs yet. Can we sill apply in any way?

You will need some documentation of DoD interest. Use the DoD definitions for TRL-3. Some validation is usually part of TRL-3, just describe where your technology is in maturity

Is there a preference to have university or large industrial partners associated with a proposal?

The submissions will be judged based on the criteria provided. Partners will only add value if they help in the development or commercialization of your solution.

Is there any scope for newcomers? Or it's fully focused on commercialization only?

The focus is on commercialization of a technology or material.

If a topic is funded by DOE, it is not eligible for this selection?

The technology must have documented DoD interest. DOE National Nuclear Security Administration would be an agency with a joint Defense mission. Other technologies from DOE funding may qualify as long as you have documented DoD interest.

We have already filed one patent that is pending, is that an issue?


Is it acceptable if the current TRL level was achieved with DOE funding?

The technology must have documented DoD interest. DOE National Nuclear Security Administration would be an agency with a joint Defense mission. Other technologies from DOE funding may qualify as long as you have documented DoD interest.

The R&D that led to our startup formation was funded by DARPA, but the startup itself has not received DoD funding since incorporation. Does the initial DARPA contract that developed the technology count as DoD interest? We are semifinalists in Army's xTechPrime competition as well - would this count?

Yes, both of those would qualify as interest.

Are Canadian companies eligible?

No, companies must have U.S. incorporation. They could be subsidiaries, however.

Is this opportunity to universities as well? And are there any limitations on who can participate?

While universities may enter the challenge, the focus on commercialization will require that all applicants demonstrate how that will be accomplished.

Would an email from DoD that captures interest in the general improvement of our technology work as DoD support?

It might. However something that captures a few of the specifics in your proposed effort would be stronger vs generalized improvement.

Are there any commercialization plans you would recommend as exemplars?

No, we are not able to provide examples of commercialization plans.

Can Professors with technology they want to commercialize enter?

Provided there is a commercialization plan as that is one of the key requirements.

We currently have emails from DoD primes and organizations (and also a few awards and DoD challenge prizes). Do we need get these support letters in formal signed letter form or do email screen shots, awards, etc. count?

While a formal letter of intent is preferred, emails or awards will be considered but may be reflected in scoring.

Would prior related SBIR experience help or hinder this selection? Would coordination with prior SBIR TPOCs help or hinder?

This project is focused on helping U.S. companies commercialize an electronics technology or material. Any previous DoD contracts simply help strengthen the case for government interest.

Are letters of interest (LOI) to be from Government offices, like the US Air Force Office of XYZ, or can the LOI come from a government program manger as their personal opinion only?

A letter of interest can be from a DoD office or individual.

What if you have applied to SBIR programs with military branches?

Appplicants must submit a confirmation of interest from a DoD office or individual. Unanswered proposals or applications would not qualify.

Is the evaluation and award based on a combination of the entire technology, why it is important, and expression of DOD interest or are these components weighted in some way?

The scoring process and weights are defined on the DBX website.

If the project has already been funded once or is currently being funded is it eligible?

Yes, a funded project is a great confirmation of DoD interest.

Can we enter with a device being developed under a Phase II SBIR?

Yes, a funded project is a great confirmation of DoD interest.

If the research and development was funded by DARPA prior to company formation, does that count as government interest?

Yes, a funded project is a great confirmation of DoD interest.

Can the academic organization apply for this program with the idea stage proposal?

Provided there is a commercialization plan as that is one of the key requirements.

If my company has received a collaboration agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of the Greenhouse Initiative program, will that fall under or qualify as a letter of interest to be able to apply?

Agreements with DoD offices for the subject technology or material are considered to constitute interest

Does the DoD interest need to reference the exact technology pursued in this accelerator?

The DoD interest must reference the technology or material in the application. If the application is for an improvement or variant of the original interest, that should be explained in the application. 

Is it possible for a US subsidiary of a Finnish company to participate in this project?

U.S. incorporated companies that are wholly owned subsidiaries of foreign companies are generally NOT eligible. It depends on organizational structure, IT, financial, board of directors, etc. Having a DoD DD2345 certification can help establish eligibility.

Can a US company take a prime lead as the program manager to assist a foreign company (Canadian) to commercialize the non-US company technology?

No. DBX funding is intended for U.S. companies

If we are already on a DoD contract and we already have a civilian presence, how would our submittal be responded?

Your proposal needs to distinguish what DoD is funding already, compared to the DBX commercialization.

We have a US holding company but our R&D effort is based in the UK and we are UK originating company. Can we apply?

No. DBX funding is intended for U.S. companies

In 2020 I started a project with a Canadian robotics manufacturer to design and build a virtual soldering trainer with haptics. The objective was to build a device that would be acceptable to IPC for J-STD certification with the benefit of growing the workforce of certified J-STD operators. 2023 was a difficult revenue year for us so the project went dormant. A capital infusion in line with the DBX Challenge would enable the project to continue and although designed in Cananda, manufacturing would be in the U.S. My question is: Could this project be a candidate for the DBX Challenge?

It depends on your company's incorporation and the proposal. If the system is already designed and you are U.S. incorporated for manufacturing and commercialization, then possibly. However DBX funding is intended for U.S. companies alone. Your proposal will have to address how you obtain the IP from Canada (if applicable).

We are a team of two trying to spin out from the University of Cambridge. The university does not own our IP and we are geographically flexible. We would be happy to register our company in the US and, if successful, relocate. Is this something you would consider?

Your company must be U.S. incorporated for the proposal. Also the control of your company must be U.S. (meaning no foreign owners or board members, etc) 

Do awardees need to join the Defense Electronics Consortium?

Finalists will need to join the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) and the Defense Electronics Consortium (DEC) to be eligible. Membership fees have been waived for DBX awardees for the duration of their participation in the DBX program.

What is the timing for these awards?

  • Webinar — October 3 at 2pm ET
  • Close application at 8 pm ET — October 12
  • Notify semifinalists — October 16
  • Notify finalists — October 27
  • Pitch event — November 28-30 (TBD)

Just learning about this program today, but have silicon chip validation. Is it possible to develop a proposal in 10 days?

The goal is to take your technology at TRL3 (some validation complete) and commercialize it. Since the DBX application process is simplified, it is possible to develop a proposal in the time alloted that also includes a business plan.

Are the dues covered upon reaching the Finalist stage, or only rebated if you are a Winner?

USPAE waived member fees for 2023. If you are not selected as a finalist, you can renew your membership in 2024 for $1,000 to stay active in other USPAE activities, or you can simply choose not to renew.

Can companies provide proposals on multiple technology opportunities?


How many applications do you get/expect in a typical submission cycle?

We are not able to speak to a potential number of applicants, as this is a first-of-its-kind program.

If these technologies are originally funded by the DoD, then go commercial, and then those commercial things are brought back into the DoD; what ITAR and employment restrictions are there?

ITAR restrictions would apply to technologies that are on the U.S. munitions list. If the technology was already funded by DoD during development, any established restriction would apply. If the the technology has only portions that can be commercialized (non-DoD use) then focus on that for the proposal. Technologies acquired by DoD after commercialization may have ITAR considerations on the integrations vs the core technology

What type of content is required in the proposal (i.e equipment, markets, scale, business plan etc.)

DBX proposals have leeway in what you want to include to communicate a strong business plan

If we are teaming then does it matter if the company submits or the university or any preference or both should do separate submissions?

There probably is some consideration in who owns the technology. The funding will go to the applicant organization. The guidance from the administration team is one submission per technology, but each organization can have multiple technologies.

How can DBX help expose, advertise and support (endorse) our system solutions to the broad defense community?

By virtue of participating in the Defense TechConnect pitch event, your solution will be exposed to the defense community.

Are there any restrictions on subcontracting and outsourcing? Both financially and ownership.

DBX does not restrict this as long as they are U.S. companies

Are there cost-share requirements for submission of proposals?


Can a research institute can write letter of support outside of DOD area?

Yes, but each proposal will also need documentation of DoD interest

Can we submit multiple entries?

Yes, each submission must be different technologies

Do we have to have a letter to submit the initial application, or can we acquire that letter as we're gaining traction in the program?

Indication of DoD interest must be submitted with the application.

Do we need a DoD prime sponsor? Would it help to have a customer or partner?

The primary need is an indication of DoD interest in the solution, whether that be from the DoD directly or a defense prime contractor.

How many pages is the commercialization plan?

Please see the webpage. No more than two pages, PDF format, 8.5x11" size with font size 12 pt or greater. There is a 10 MB file size limit.

Must we be registered on SAM.gov for the October 12th submission?

No, SAM.gov registration would be required for finalists before the pitch event on Nov 27-28

What is the website address for information and submission of these proposals?

DBX main website and click "Apply" at top. Or go directly to https://events.techconnect.org/DTCFall/DBX/innovation/form.html

How will you connect us with DoD users after a successful project? DoD users normally operate in compartmentalized business units.

USPAE and its Defense Electronics Consortium helps make the connections between its members and DoD

Who will pay for travel to the pitch event?

Finalists are responsible for their own travel to the pitch event.

How much time will be allotted to pitch presentations?

Five minutes for the pitch and two minutes for Q&A, following.

Is there a pitch, interview or similar step to go from semi-finals to finals? Or are we only submitting one time that will be evaluated twice?

You submit an application only one time. Semi-Finalists will then complete Fluency scores and receive further evaluation by an additional group of reviewers before proceeding to the Finalist round.

What detail can you provide on expectations for the commercialization plan?

Qualified attachments will be no more than two pages, PDF format, 8.5x11" size with font size 12 pt or greater. Strong entries will outline the following:

  • Description of target market (needs, pain points, size, growth potential)
  • Description of funding needs (amount and use), along with your timeline and approach to deliver a return on investment (ROI).
  • Description of your technology and how it will address your target market.
  • Analysis of your competition and unique value proposition (by comparison).
  • Outline of IP protection strategy.
  • Identification of potential risks and challenges and how you plan to mitigate them.

What are the rules/requirements for teaming? Do both members have to submit separate applications? How do we need to define the teaming arrangement? Will that affect award contracting/budget?

"The DBX program only has a few essential rules which are posted to the website. A DBX award is given to a commercialization project focused on one technology per award. You get to define the budget and teaming. It does not specific requirements for teaming, but there is some consideration for the primary organization and who owns the technology. "

Does the application need to be non-proprietary?

Yes, we are requesting a non-proprietary description of the technology so that the review panel that from industry and investors can evaluate the proposal which has more focus on the commercialization plan.

Will more than one submission per company be allowed? Will companies be penalized for this?

Multiple submissions per company are allowed, but they need to have distinct technologies. No penalties, other than duplication will cause a disqualification.

I accidentally did not include my commercialization plan. My internet refreshed and submitted before I attached it. Can I submit again?

Yes. Email it to laura@techconnect.org with your application number.

What are the protections of IP. When are you looking for prototypes / IOC?

This project is focused on helping U.S. companies commercialize an electronics technology or material and there is no checkpoint for prototypes.

How does the program navigate export control challenges and risks in terms of dual use and staffing?

This project is focused on helping U.S. companies commercialize an electronics technology or material. If those issues are of concern, they should be addressed in the commercialization plan.

Do you have specific pre and post program TRL and MRL levels in mind?

Our target level is TRL 3 with some proof of concept or validation per DoD TRL definitions

I may not have evidence of DoD interest in time for the challenge close date. Can I submit it later?

To meet the published challenge close date, the challenge application can be submitted without the evidence of DoD interest. However, evidence of DoD interest must be received as a PDF file by 5:00 PM ET on Friday, October 20, and there will be no changes to the application. Instructions on how to submit this document will be provided to those who are missing evidence once the challenge closes but otherwise qualify.

Can a small business retain the IP, or will the DOD own the IP?

Companies will still own the intellectual property.

Under the section requesting evidence of expression there is a note that reads "Note that entrants must provide evidence to achieve finalist status." We can get this, but the question is timing. Do we need this before we can be a semi-finalist?

See recent DBX team email guidence.

If our commercialization plan requires $1.5 million but our company want to apply for a dollar amount less than that, where and how would you want us to address that?

Your commercialization plan will need to address how you would obtain the additional amount of funding to obtain your goals.

What kind of technologies are targeted with this challenge?

With a focus on microelectronics, the challenge is open to any relevant technology or material that is commercially viable and is of interest to DoD. Areas of interest are wide ranging and are listed on the DBX website.

Does the Challenge include end-user products which employ circuit board electronics to deliver life-saving results?

Yes it can include end-use electronics products

Can I submit a hybrid electronics, optics, nanotech for LiDAR, Augmented Reality, Directed Energy Weapons, and many more apps?

Yes, but directed energy weapons are not dual-use technology for commercial markets; they are DoD-specific.

Is a new renewable fuel capable electric power generator tech offering a 300% improvement in power output a good fit for DBX?

No it is not a good fit, DBX is focused on microelectronics technologies

Would photonics technology using integrated semiconductor processes fit in the topic area?


What would be a typical project that would fit into this program?

There is not a typical project for this program, but you can learn more about the types of technologies and solutions we seek on this page: https://events.techconnect.org/DTCFall/DBX/

Will the focus be on mSAP and Build Up Films to achieve what desired linewidth/spacing and smallest uVia size?

DBX is not focused on a single microelectronics technology area. mSAP and high density build-up films are applicable to DBX proposals

Some topics refer to "Microelectronics and Electronics". Are Photonics and Optoelectronics integrated circuits (not refereed explicitly) also included in this or not?

Yes, they are included. DBX is not limited to CMOS or digital technology. Electric power grid transformers would be an example of "macro" electronics that are not allowed.

How do you see AI impacting DOD operations?

AI used for microelectronics technologies can apply to DBX

Is there room for interpretation within the topic ideas, or do they have certain specifications?

There is room for interpretation. The primary requirement is that proposals must be microelectronics focused. This can include semiconductors, substrates, circuit boards, assemblies, and systems as examples.

What are the largest DOD demands for AI embedded hardware in the battle field? (ex. durability, compute power, compatibility?)

Your proposal would need to document DoD interest on your potential AI technology

Will "semiconductor" or "photonics" be considered to be eligible industry in this selection?


As a PCB manufacturer actively working on UHDI, what opportunities do I have for funding under this program?

Yes, however DBX is focused on commercializing medium-level TRL or MRL technologies.

[Company] is a viable firm and has a demonstrated and viable product, but it could be said that the level of training and expertise required to successfully run the full Reverse Engineering system is prohibitive for more broad market adoption. If we invested in improving the ease-of-use of the product to lower the skill requirement, it may make mass adoption more viable and in general expand the scope and availability of reverse engineering capacity to DoD and commercial markets alike. Will this be a fit for the Challenge?

So if I understand correctly, the new "technology" would be to improve the ease-of-use of [Company] or reverse engineering products to lower the skill requirement. I think that would fit, we are certainly seeing this kind of innovation in printed circuit board optical inspection and automation.


Is technology to provide critical infrastructure asset protection, zero trust remote access, zero trust data exchange of interest?

The technology must have documented DoD interest and also be hardware intensive/microelectronics focused. General cyber and IT technologies may not necessarily qualify.

Are supply chain security / quantifiable assurance solutions in scope for DBX?

Yes as long as they are microelectronics focused (chips to electronics modules, etc)

Can firmware developments that enable new electronics or enable use of older electronics in new ways applicable for this competition?

Firmware considered part of microelectronics technologies applies. Firmware at operating system level would not apply.

Do hardware + embedded software combination technologies qualify as electronics?

Yes as long as the technology is hardware intensive

Do we need a CAGE code by the November pitch session too?


Is deep tech eligible?

Yes, as long as it is hardware intensive and falls into the general microelectronics sector.

Is the best way to gauge the initial fit to the broad topic areas through the Q&A site? For instance, we are MedTech but there are a number of electronics and signal processing challenges we see that have broader relevance.

MedTech would qualify as long as it is hardware intensive and falls into the general microelectronics sector. You will also need to document DoD interest

We have a medical device with military and commercial applications that involves a custom ASIC and innovative chip packaging solutions, does that fit into your program?

Yes this technology applies to DBX. You will still need to document DoD interest which could be DoD medical organizations as examples

Does wafer level manufacturing of miniature active implantable devices qualify as a topic of interest?

Yes this technology applies to DBX. You will still need to document DoD interest which could be DoD medical organizations as examples

If we have a known DoD project that has a known challenge/problem, can we submit a solution for funding that is new and different?


Is deep technologies with high merit eligible such as force fields based on time dilation and faster than c communication channels?

Yes, as long as it is hardware intensive and falls into the general microelectronics sector.

My company is commercializing some technology out of Sandia National Laboratories, an acoustic biosensor that can determine if an antibiotic will be effective at stopping an infection in 30 minutes instead of days that it takes now. We have a letter from Walter Reed that shows their interest (it was written for an NIH grant), is that accepted for DOD interest?

Walter Reed is a DoD entity and qualifies for documented interest, much like DHA or other DoD medical organizations

We are developing miniature active implants for a host of neuromodulation therapies and diagnostics. Some of that funding comes from a DARPA BAA. We are using non-conventional wafer level manufacturing with embedded microelectronics to make inexpensive medical devices that can be used by the war fighter, veterans, and civilians. Are we eligible for DBX?

Yes this technology applies to DBX. You will still need to document DoD interest which could be DARPA or other DoD medical organizations as examples

Our company, in collaboration with CU Boulder, is developing the technology for synthesis of core-shell powder conductive inks for printed electronics. When would be a suitable RFP for these materials and applications?

Yes, but your technology should be at TRL3 (proof of concept or with validation) vs very early stage research

Are technologies like BioSensors that are MEMS and made in a foundry / microfab, in scope for this challenge? The bio-sensor has numerous applications for the DOD and would help transform how diseases are diagnosed for the DOD.


It seems microelectronics are favored, but is there any interest in unconventional computing if it is electro-optical computing?

Electro-optical computing requires many microelectronics and could be part of a DBX proposal. Electric power grid transformers would be an example of "macro" electronics that are not allowed.

What kinds of electronic project qualify?

Most technologies that are microelectronics focused. Electric power grid transformers would be an example of "macro" electronics that are not allowed.

Would electronic devices that improve energy efficiency in water purification and energy efficiency in building cooling apply?

They would possibly apply to DBX. The devices need to have a microelectronics basis. You will also need documentation of DoD interest.

Is the focus on evolutionary, incremental improvement or on game-changing technologies or both?

Both, as long as the current technology has not previously been commercialized

Is dual use medical device technology that can save millions of lives of DOD personnel, veterans, and civilians eligible?

Yes, but you will need to submit documentation of DoD interest

Our product is presently commercially available. It is a disruptive technology. We feel it should be with USA before outside our sphere. Should we still present?

The target technologies for DBX are mid-TRL. If your technology is already commercialize (high TRL) it would not qualify. Significant improvements to your product, "new" technology might qualify.

Can you elaborate on advanced packaging material requirements?

The main requirement is that the advanced packaging technology is mid-TRL or MRL and has not been previously commercialized. Otherwise no other material requirements.

Our sensor is made in a foundry / microfab, so it is manufactured using the same techniques as computer chips. Our sensor is considered a microelectronic mechanical system (MEMS). Do you think we would be competitive / in scope for this challenge?

Yes this technology applies to DBX.

Should the projects have a specific physical deliverable or is concrete progress towards commercialization sufficient?

This project is focused on helping U.S. companies commercialize an electronics technology or material

Who will choose the awardees?

A panel composed of investors, industry and government will review the applications, listen to the finalist pitches and determine the awardees. Panelists will be announced by mid-November.

How will success be measured?

In addition to the financial prize, individual awardees will be given support in commercializing their technology. Performance measures will include Technology Readiness Level, Manufacturing Readiness Level, and business model maturity; these will be evaluated at the beginning and end of participation in DBX, and compared to a control group of non-participants, to measure the impact of DBX on these metrics.

How does the DBX evaluate proposals, and what are the program priorities?

Please refer to the evaluation page for information about how proposals will be reviewed.

What are the primary criteria on which the pitches will be evaluated?

Please refer to the evaluation page for information about how proposals will be reviewed.

What is the best way to win the funding?

A solid proposal for commercializing the technology

How are B Corp business models considered in the fluency algorithms?

They are treated just like any other business.

Is co-investment (from the host company or seed investors) desirable?

Additional investments that help companies achieve commercialization goals will be taken into consideration.

How many awards are expected?

We anticipate making five to ten awards between $500,000 and $2,000,000 each shortly after the pitch event.

How will the amount of the awards be determined?

Reviewers will optimize the funds available based on applicant scores and needs.

When will the award be made?

The dates of the award notifications are in the "Rules" on the DBX website. The Winners will be notified by email December 8, 2023. Afterwards, verification of winners and contracts will need to be put in place with the Defense Electronics Consortium/ATI before funds will be distributed

Is the DBX funding intended for modifying existing technology, or could the funds be spent on other Go To Market costs?

Either situation may apply. Key requirement is the technology must be mid-TRL or MRL and not have been previously commercialized (non-DoD).

When would winning contracts commence?

Awards are targeted to be made by mid-December.

Will there be funds available for this program if the DoD is under a Continuing Resolution?

We do not expect a continuing resolution to have any impact on this effort.