Syracuse student startup Secwins selected for prestigious Griffiss Institute first cohort of HUSTLE Defense Accelerator

catherine forrest in a graduation gown
Secwins CEO Catherine Forrest ’22

Griffiss Institute President & CEO Heather Hage has announced the first-ever cohort of the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator. The program is an elite and immersive 12-week training academy for seed-stage startups developing artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, quantum science, and unmanned aircraft system solutions.

Secwins, a cyber security tech startup co-founded by Catherine Forrest ’22 and Abdullah Naimzadeh G’22 was one of the five ventures accepted into the inaugural cohort. Forrest, CEO of the company, recently graduated summa cum laude from the iSchool. She was co-founder and President of CryptoCuse and President of WiTec, both student organizations that provides students with information and connections around blockchain, cryptocurrency, DeFi, cybersecurity, technology policy standards, and other related areas.

Secwins aims to develop a SaaS solution, utilizing digital twin technology and machine learning/artificial intelligence to more accurately model the socio-technical complexities of the cyber strategic environment. The solution will be delivered via a web hosted data dashboard and API. Secwins will simulate cyber scenarios that generate anticipatory insights about the complexities and nuances of the digital landscape, thereby enabling more effective data-driven strategic cybersecurity decision-making.

“The Griffiss Institute is incredibly excited to host these innovative startup leaders at the Innovare Advancement Center and provide them access to all of the amazing talent and technology resources we offer,” said Hage. “Creating the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator was a natural next step forward in our commitment to elevate the next generation of STEM students, professionals, and technologies. I’m confident one of these teams will emerge as the next big idea for national security.”

Throughout 12 weeks – beginning on May 23, 2022, at the Innovare Advancement Center in Rome, New York – select startup leaders will have the opportunity to sharpen their skills in running a business. They will be provided with daily education and mentoring through a group of highly talented professionals. In addition, participants can partake in a track unique to the HUSTLE accelerator, where they will learn how to work with government, opening the door to countless opportunities for their small businesses to grow.

The final day of the program will feature a “Pitch Day” where teams will present their businesses for a chance to win a $300,000 cash prize.

Other participants chosen because of their potential to elevate U.S. national security and economic competitiveness include:

  • McGuirk USA
  • CyberSpara
  • Neuromorphic Intelligent Computing
  • ThermoAI

In addition to the comprehensive HUSTLE curriculum, these participants will gain access to many Innovare events, including guest speakers, networking, community engagement, and more.

The Griffiss Institute is an independent non-for-profit entity established in 2002. It aims to develop the next generation of STEM talent and defense technologies that will strengthen U.S. national security and create economic opportunity for our region, state, and nation. Learn more about the HUSTLE Defense Accelerator and how to participate in future cohorts here.