Building Smoke Detectors for the Great Outdoors

Wildfires and their devastating impact on communities, the environment, and public safety continue to dominate headlines worldwide. Recognizing the urgency to address this critical issue, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) collaborated with TechNexus over the past three years to mitigate wildfires’ impact on communities using early warning system innovations from early-stage ventures. This groundbreaking initiative aims to revolutionize the way wildfires are detected and prevented.

Government agencies have traditionally faced lengthy processes to bring a solution to fruition. From developing requirements to contracting, the process is fraught with bureaucratic delays that often result in solutions that don’t adequately address their needs.

It also shows that looking at the external venture ecosystem and investing beyond the check can have tremendous results for even the most traditional organizations.

After trying the traditional government method, the Department of Homeland Security asked TechNexus to help using the same approach we use with our corporate partners, leveraging innovative ventures to tackle crucial public safety and security issues.

The Approach:

  • Identifying the Problem: We began by using design thinking to define what’s now, what if, what wows, and what works for early wildfire detection and prevention and the challenges and opportunities it presents.
  • Sourcing Innovative Ventures: Through a comprehensive global search, we identified over 100 ventures with technologies capable of addressing the problem. Four ventures with unique technologies and approaches from various industries were eventually selected: N5 SensorsBreeze TechnologiesAi4, and Valor Fire Safety. These ventures included industrial chemical detection experts and those specializing in hyper-local air quality analysis using AI.
  • Entrepreneurial Passion: In addition to technological potential, we sought entrepreneurs who deeply understood the problem and were passionate about finding innovative solutions.
  • Guiding the Ventures: We provided the selected ventures with initial funding to develop prototypes and facilitated connections with experts and stakeholders. Rather than dictating how to reach their goals, we focused on guiding the ventures on what they needed to accomplish.
  • Stage Approach: We implemented a stage approach to maximize efficiency and adaptability. This involved testing prototypes, iterating on the development process, conducting further testing in controlled and field environments, and ultimately narrowing the selection to the two most promising solutions—this iterative process allowed for fast and cost-effective failures, providing valuable insights and learnings.

The Result:

After refining the technology through rigorous testing and development, these sensor-based early warning systems are being installed worldwide. Deploying these advanced detection technologies significantly improves early wildfire detection and prevention capabilities, reducing the risk of catastrophic events.

Beyond government programs, corporations partner with TechNexus Venture Collaborative to help them innovate by using our venture collaborative approach to address their growth issues into the next decade. By building a portfolio of venture investments or ecosystems around a company, they’re able to reduce innovation risks. These ventures serve as valuable tools for validating new technologies, testing innovative business models, and gaining a deeper understanding of new customer segments. TechNexus helps corporations achieve their desired outcomes through collaborative partnerships with innovative ventures while fostering mutually beneficial relationships.

If building an ecosystem of ventures around you to create new revenue streams, business models, or products would help you achieve your goals, please contact us at to learn more and set up a conversation. 

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