This Startup Is Bringing High Tech to the Battlefront and the Final Frontier

By Elijah Labby Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Fifth-generation cellular technology, also known as 5G, is the newest iteration of wireless broadband. It brings with its arrival lower latency, increased bandwidth, and higher capacity. Simply put, it’s a revolutionary next step in a cellular evolution that has the power to change the way we do just about everything.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based startup Deepwave Digital has new technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to effectively allocate shared spectrum. The startup wants to bring 5G everywhere from the battlefield to the edge of space, and they’ve secured a new round of funding to help them do just that.

The tech startup recently raised $3 million in seed funding to help them develop and roll out their AI-enabled 5G technology. The round of funding was led by Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense company, and Jumpstart NJ Angel Network, with contributions from Robin Hood Ventures, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and Lehigh Valley Angel Investors.

Investors were impressed with Deepwave Digital’s mission, and see it as a crucial next step in providing top-level value for their customers.

"We're evolving the way we think and the way we work, to use emerging commercial technologies to provide our warfighters the most advanced capabilities more quickly," said Chris Daughters who is vice president of research, technology, and engineering in the department of aeronautics systems at Northrop Grumman. "Our partnership with Deepwave Digital combined with our advanced autonomy expertise will enhance the agility, speed, and affordability our customers expect."

The Artificial Intelligence and Telecommunications Markets

Deepwave Digital sits in both the AI and telecommunications markets, both of which are growing substantially.

According to market research firm Grand View Research, the AI market is growing at an astronomical 42.2 % annually. This means that while the market was already worth $39.9 billion in 2020, it is anticipated to reach $733.7 billion by 2027.

This growth is incredible and makes AI one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The technology has spawned a sort of race between massive world governments like the United States, China, and Russia to create the most advanced AI, so Northrop’s interest in Deepwave Digital’s emphasis on the militaristic applications of its hardware and software should come as no surprise.

There is also no shortage of applications for AI-driven technology. Companies like Amazon and eBay are using AI to improve customer recommendations on their websites, while Google and Microsoft are using it to improve search results, provide more relevant information to users, and predict items consumers may be interested in purchasing.

Grand View Research also reports that the global telecommunications market was worth about $1.75 trillion — yes, trillion — as of 2019 and is expected to undergo compound growth of about 5% annually.

Obviously, the growth of these markets bodes well for the startup which has already experienced a fair bit of success in its three years. Raising this additional money will, in all likelihood, put them in a stronger position to seize on this momentum.

A Showcase in Courting Investors

One of the things Northrop Grumman says endeared the company to Deepwave Digital was the in-person demonstration of its technology.

According to Northrop’s blog, Now., John Ferguson, CEO of the startup, demonstrated the product to 40 engineers. They sat, in Northrop’s glowing terms, “in rapt attention.”

Shortly after, Northrop Grumman invited the company to join them for a hackathon — in which programmers participate in a timed challenge of the startup’s technology — in order to put Deepwave Digital’s product to the test.

This experience, says Ferguson, forced the startup to make sure they were in tip-top shape before the big day.

“Training and deploying RF machine learning as algorithms is complex, and the Northrop Grumman engineers had a wide variety of expertise,” he said. “This forced us to put together a streamlined experience where we can enable newcomers to get relevant, first-hand experience with our product.”

Northrop representatives were impressed as well.

“We’re really looking forward to some collaborative work with them in the coming year,” said Dr. Mark Milam, who is a Northrop Grumman Fellow.

In this case, it is clear that pursuing a personal relationship with their investor helped the startup secure the needed funding. Now that Deepwave Digital has it, we can’t wait to see what they do.

About the Author


Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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