Reflecting on Converge Washington D.C. & First Responder Interaction

Last week’s Converge event in Washington D.C. brought together first responders from across the country with ten select ventures participating in TechNexus’ EMERGE Accelerator. This first-of-its-kind event assembled thought leaders representing police, fire, and a number of other public and emergency safety personnel with entrepreneurs. The goal? To use this interaction as a means to inform product development and go-to-market strategy for the technology that will outfit the first responder of the future.

In order to drive the space forward, entrepreneurs are focused on preparing and outfitting the first responder of the future with next-gen technologies. Yet this innovation cannot happen in a vacuum; it requires a two-way dialogue. The direct feedback provided by forward-thinking responders is instrumental in shaping founders’ perspectives as they focus on meeting critical needs in the space. In this way, first responders at Converge were given the unique opportunity to direct innovation at its source. This next-level stage of collaboration is unique to the EMERGE Accelerator and key to bringing cutting-edge technology into the market, faster.

Already, several of the ventures at Converge Washington D.C. have begun implementing feedback from the event. Pear Sports has developed a platform focused on helping first responders leverage responsive, interactive training that reacts in the moment with biofeedback to more effectively stimulate the rigors of on-the-job responsibilities.  Upon learning more from firefighters about the recently established Wellness Fitness Initiative and PFT Certification at Converge, Pear Sports may explore the opportunity to further customize its platform to serve as a tool for responders to map their fitness against the standards of these new programs.

Firefighters at Converge also voiced their need for outward communication abilities–in other words, methods of communicating with their teammates in the chaotic field environment without distracting from the task at hand. One example of a specific communication use case is the need for a system alert when a firefighter’s SCBA tank is low. For Lumenus founder Jeremy Wall, his company’s “smart lighting” gear for athletes represents a significant opportunity to fill this unmet need.  Similar lighting alert systems could easily be integrated into other first responders’ existing gear, as well as into the gear used by utility workers in the field.

First responders are not the only beneficiaries of these conversations. Corporations involved in utility, mining, and other related fields have similar needs to responders and depend upon entrepreneurs to develop innovative technology that will strengthen the services they offer to customers. These ventures are working at the frontier of the technology field, and similarly rely on the needs of corporations to drive their products to market.  In December, Converge Chicago will continue the conversation by connecting entrepreneurs with corporations and industry stakeholders.

Through the EMERGE Accelerator and its interactive events, TechNexus is providing participating ventures with unique insight driven by conversations with both end-users and corporate partners. Collectively, these resources are enabling market access and commercial validation. To learn more about these developments, visit http://emerge.technexus.com/.