With demand surging for government tech, Dcode shifts its accelerator model for startups

In going from a cohort-model to a rolling-admissions one, the federal technology accelerator hopes to meet surging government demand for tech.
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Washington, D.C.-based federal technology accelerator Dcode is shifting the way it gets startups into the federal marketplace to meet increased demand from the government during the pandemic.

Dcode is essentially allowing companies to apply and then receive support anytime, instead of joining a technology-specific cohort. The organization’s classes for entrepreneurs — its main mode of support for companies trying to break into the government market — will be delivered via an online platform, giving even greater flexibility to startups.

The change was due to two general signals for increased demand, Dcode’s Rebecca Gevalt who manages its technology programs, told FedScoop. As the government was forced to rapidly modernize, its overall reliance on technology increased. And companies faced with a pandemic-induced economic crunch have turned to the ever-stable buyer of the federal government to provide stability.

The organization’s application page has been offering admissions “on a rolling basis” since the beginning of December. Dcode works exclusively with companies that can deliver useful technology to the federal government.


“What we wanted to do was link [programs] to government mission instead of a schedule,” Gevalt said about the new platform-based model.

Dcode has hosted more than a dozen cohorts with more than 100 companies that were technology-specific, like artificial intelligence or space. Companies that graduate from the program can also be vetted for Dcode Capital, its venture capital arm.

“Cohorts models can be limiting for both government and technology companies. To remove those limitations, accelerators are evolving, and we need to make sure the government keeps up,” Dcode’s CEO Meagan Metzger said in a statement. “We’re seeing increased demand from the government and tech companies looking to work together to better serve Americans, and this next iteration of Dcode Accelerate will continue to make that happen at an even larger scale.”

Dcode officials said they’re aware that shifting to remote learning will sacrifice some of the intense team-building that is natural in a cohort model. The tradeoff, though, is that the organization can work with more companies, Gevalt said.

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