Starburst Aerospace, MIT, and MassChallenge Join Forces for NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA)

Source: PR Newswire Press Release – June 01, 2023


Starburst Aerospace, Mission Innovation X at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT MIx), and MassChallenge are selected as NATO’s leading partners to spearhead accelerator programming for dual-use technologies that address transatlantic defense and security challenges.


MUNICH, June 1, 2023 — Starburst Aerospace, Mission Innovation X at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT MIx), and MassChallenge have joined forces in an official partnership with NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA), which provides deep tech and dual-use innovators access to resources from across the Alliance/allied nations.


The DIANA program aims to accelerate emerging and disruptive dual-use technologies that address critical transatlantic defense needs and security challenges while fostering a new generation of deep-tech entrepreneurs. As leading organizations deeply rooted in innovation, Starburst, MIT MIx, and MassChallenge were selected by NATO to assist the Alliance in identifying solutions related to dual-use technologies and inter-Allied exchange and diversity.


The NATO DIANA Board of Directors has voted to prioritize energy resilience, secure information sharing, as well as sensing and surveillance as the main areas of focus for DIANA’s work on Emerging and Disrupting Technologies (EDTs) in 2023. The board also recently agreed to add 28 new “deep-tech test centers” to the entity’s footprint and two new accelerator sites in North America, bringing DIANA’s growing network to more than 10 accelerations and over 90 test centers.


With their domain expertise and strong relationships with innovators, investors, corporates, and government entities around the globe, the partnership is uniquely positioned to support NATO’s nascent defense technology accelerator. Together, they will commence the next phase of DIANA’s expansion as they prepare to launch the first of several competition-style programs.


“The transatlantic partnership between Starburst Aerospace, MIT MIx, and MassChallenge will employ each of our respective expertise in accelerating novel, dual-use technologies to develop a curriculum that provides an equitable experience for participating small businesses across the Alliance, while leveraging the unique strengths and ecosystems of each accelerator site,” stated Vijay Sekhara, Director of Strategic Partnerships, MassChallenge.


DIANA will focus on nine key emerging dual-use technologies: artificial intelligence, data, quantum-enabled technologies, autonomy, biotechnology, hypersonics, novel materials and manufacturing, energy and propulsion, and space. Selected innovators participating in DIANA may have the opportunity to become candidates for the NATO Innovation Fund, which will invest €1 billion into dual-use technology startups.


“The synergy between the DIANA network and the NATO Innovation Fund is one of the most exciting prospects for dual-use startups across the Alliance” noted Gene Keselman, Executive Director of MIT Mix and a Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management. “This has the chance to be a real game-changer in the NATO ecosystem”.


Starburst Aerospace has a successful track record of designing and running accelerator programs that support early-stage Aerospace and Defense (A&D) startups, accelerate growth, catalyze breakthrough technologies, and drive progress within the aerospace industry. The partnership will strategically leverage Starburst’s existing accelerator capabilities and deep network of innovative international startups.


“We are devoted to cultivating an environment that empowers startups to push the boundaries of aerospace innovation,” said Starburst Founder and CEO, François Chopard. “By providing entrepreneurs with the necessary support, resources, and access to a global network of industry leaders, we aim to transform their bold ideas for dual-use applications into reality.”


“NATO’s DIANA has the potential to forge an unprecedented innovation network, connecting the most talented and diverse founder base with trusted investors, corporate and government partners, as well as industry-leading experts across thirty-one Allied nations,” shared Hope Hopkins, Head of US Accelerator Programs, MassChallenge. “MassChallenge hopes our efforts can serve as a blueprint for future accelerator programs and we are honored to support this effort with Starburst Aerospace and MIT.”


DIANA is poised to become an invaluable resource for NATO member nations, enabling them to harness the power of dual-use technologies for data analysis and much more. It will serve as an innovative addition to NATO’s existing capabilities, offering real-time support and augmenting the expertise of decision-makers.


Starburst Aerospace, MIT MIx, and MassChallenge have collaborated closely with NATO to ensure that the program is in alignment with the Organization’s principles and objectives. Built with a focus on transparency, accountability, and ethical considerations, the accelerator program will adhere to NATO’s values of collective defense, democracy, and respect for human rights. The three organizations will engage in regular collaborations with NATO experts, policymakers, and military professionals to incorporate their insights and feedback into the program’s development.


About NATO DIANA (Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic):

DIANA leverages its acceleration program and test center network to bring start-ups and other innovators together with operational end-users, scientists, and systems integrators to advance compelling deep tech with dual-use solutions for the Alliance.


About Starburst Aerospace

Founded in 2012, Starburst Aerospace is an innovation catalyst in the global Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industry. Combining three complementary activities–accelerators, consulting, and ventures–they help stakeholders innovate, navigate and invest in the dynamic ecosystem. With offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Munich, Singapore, Seoul, Tel Aviv, Madrid, and Washington DC, the team has built a robust community with 60+ partners and a portfolio of 140+ startups. Starburst’s leading Flagship Accelerator program helps startups scale their business in aviation, space, and defense with access to the largest group of corporate representatives, government stakeholders, and private venture investors in the world to help startups win their first contracts. More information about Starburst can be found at


About MassChallenge

MassChallenge is the global network for innovators. Headquartered in the United States with eight locations worldwide, it is the non-profit’s mission to help bold entrepreneurs disrupt the status quo and create sustainable change. Since launching in 2009, MassChallenge has run programs in 24 countries, supported more than 4,000 startups from around the world, and awarded over $18M in equity-free cash and prizes. Learn more about MassChallenge at


About MIT

The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

The Institute is committed to generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge, and to working with others to bring this knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges. MIT is dedicated to providing its students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse campus community. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind. More information about MIT can be found at


About Mission Innovation X at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT MIx)

Mission Innovation X (MIx) enables mission-driven organizations and dual-use ventures to better solve the world’s biggest challenges. We work with mission-driven organizations to help realize their goals and we accelerate dual-use companies so that they can make their impact on global society. More information about MIT can be found at


Media Contact: Raychel Espiritu,