August 23, 2021 | Company Building

Vannevar Labs: Bringing Silicon Valley Speed and Applied AI Expertise to National Security

Greg Sands

Written by

Greg Sands

Today, Casey Aylward and I are proud to  continue to support  Vannevar Labs by leading their $12M Series A with participation from Point72 and General Catalyst.

Led by co-founders Brett Granberg and Nini Moorhead, with Palantir’s John Doyle as a key advisor, Vannevar Labs is bringing applied artificial intelligence, especially advances in machine learning to our country’s national security. As operators on the ground and intelligence analysts work to solve challenging and rapidly evolving  problems, they need modern technology that supports the mission and drives results. The bar for success is very high, with no room for failure. Vannevar Labs is delivering these sensitive solutions through an innovative model that includes joint development and testing with users at home and abroad. 

With this round, the company is deepening its presence in defense at a moment when the government is shifting its focus from counterterrorism to threats from nation-states. Customers in this space are signaling a remarkable openness to new ways of obtaining much-needed innovation, turning toward the agility of Silicon Valley’s software-first companies. They’re demonstrating confidence in Vannevar’s unique blend of Valley experience with deep domain expertise in national security. They see the value of accelerating beyond the cumbersome models of the past that too frequently relied on building physical devices or assets first followed by the captive custom software to support them. Instead, customers today clearly share the vision of a future in which thorny national security issues are addressed and resolved using software itself. 

What’s changed is the government’s embrace of open systems architecture (OSA). The OSA approach ensures innovation can be chosen based on its merit, value, and the probability of reaching mission success — and eliminates being locked into a specific original equipment manufacturer or supplier. More flexible contracting vehicles — like Other Transaction Authority (OTA) options — are also making it easier than ever before for government agencies to bring on more diverse partners.

As a firm, we continue to invest in applied AI like Vannevar Labs because the transformational arc of this technology is clear. Machine learning has allowed us to automate tasks faster and with more accuracy than previously believed possible, creating fresh efficiencies and — ultimately — real opportunities to leverage intelligence and make better decisions. We see this in portfolio companies like Auterion, with its open systems approach to drones; Aquabyte, which applies machine learning to food sustainability; Akasa, which automates revenue cycle operations;, with its efforts to modernize accounting through AI; and Focal Systems, that’s using deep learning to transform retail through improvements in customer experience and store stock availability.

We’re investing with optimism and confidence because we have no shortage of examples where applied AI and machine learning technologies are the gamechangers for disrupting highly traditional industries and sectors. Vannevar Labs is the latest — and we congratulate the team on their Series A!