How to Get Tech Disrupters DHS Funding & Market Access

DHS is looking for a few good disrupters for first responder and security technology applications. Startups could get up to $800K and market access.

Tech security startups can get up to $200,000, or $800,000 over four phases, from the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), a five-year program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For civic leaders everywhere, this is a great program to help local disrupters -- tech talent that often has little funding -- get commercial ventures off the ground. It provides investment as well as access to U.S. homeland security markets.

Through the newer program, startups can develop or tweak technology to get it up and running, tested and into product development and DHS procurement markets, said Melissa Ho, managing director at DHS, on Facebook Tech Talk, broadcast live on the DHS Science and Technology Directorate Facebook page.

While the program was designed to provide funding to commercial technology startups to develop homeland security solutions, it enables the government to leverage private sector funding to develop solutions. DHS supports the startups not only with funding to develop and adapt technologies, but plugs them into DHS markets.

DHS has technology needs in aviation and border security, as well as to support first responders. SVIP, based in DHS's Silicon Valley office, reaches out to innovation communities across the globe to co-invest in ideas.

“We’re looking for the best talent,” Ho said.

How it Works

DHS provides the funding, but the Federal government does not take any equity into the company.

Ho also said the program is about 45 days from selection to contract.

Startups don’t have a lot of time to wait on us,” she said, explaining how SVIP mirrors what happens in the tech startup investment world with a proof-of-concept style call for proposals.

This has helped the agency see success in attracting disrupters, she said.

In the 18 months since the program began, 20 U.S. startups have been funded. There have been nine topics announced so far in the rolling call for proposals. SVIP has received nearly 200 applications, and they are starting to get them from outside the United States.

Ho said she is seeing solutions develop in as quickly as six months, and the disrupter startups are seeing returns in as soon as eight or nine months. Part of the reason is because DHS customers and end users are helping to choose the proposals that get funded. If they would use the technology, they are more likely to support the proposal, she indicated.

Two other perks -- startups are notified within 24 hours of their 15-minute verbal presentations. And, some of the startups are getting millions of dollars in venture capital funding in their B rounds, Ho said.

How to Apply

If a startup has an idea to adapt or further develop a technology, they must complete and submit a 10-page application that describes the work program and process that will develop the solution DHS requests.

SVIP is looking to connect with commercial enterprises that have not had a contract with the government that requires audits in last 12 months. It's not really about size, though some applicants may be as small as a company sharing a co-working space, Ho said.

She advised applicants to be review DHS's mission before applying, and to keep in mind what the agency is trying to accomplish. And basically, don’t layer the application with extraneous marketing material – make sure the solution that's there is there in the application.

“We really want to see what truly makes you stand out,” she said.

Current Needs

DHS current SVIP needs are targeting solutions that support the first responder community:

Learn more about the program at

Review the five-year solicitation on

Watch the SVIP Facebook Tech Talk broadcast:

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved.