Colorado Springs Defense Unicorns Raises $35M to Bring Open Source Software and AI to National Security

Lily Polanco Follow Mar 08, 2024 · 2 mins read
Colorado Springs Defense Unicorns Raises $35M to Bring Open Source Software and AI to National Security
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In the world of national security, speed and technological superiority can mean the difference between mission success and failure. That’s why the recent $35 million Series A funding round for Defense Unicorns, a startup providing open source software and AI for national security systems, is such an exciting development.

Founded by former leaders of the pioneering Department of Defense software factories initiative, Defense Unicorns is tackling head-on the technological challenges faced by the U.S. military and intelligence communities. Their suite of open source tools like Zarf, LeapfrogAI, Pepr and Lula are designed to enable continuous delivery of cutting-edge software and AI applications, even in highly secure and disconnected “air-gapped” environments.

As the global landscape becomes increasingly volatile and threats continue to evolve, the need for the U.S. to rapidly integrate new technologies has never been greater. However, outdated systems, stringent security requirements and the complexities of diverse compute environments have created unacceptable lags in getting new capabilities operationalized.

Defense Unicorns is changing that paradigm. Their Your App Your Environment (YAYE) platform allows for software deployments into any setting - from cloud to tactical edge. Their Software Factory provides a comprehensive DevSecOps solution tailored for national security use cases. And perhaps most impressively, their AI for National Security offering has already brought generative AI capabilities like translation, transcription and summarization into multiple classified environments supporting real-world military operations.

The $35M funding from elite venture firms Sapphire Ventures and Ansa Capital will allow Defense Unicorns to double down on these cutting-edge capabilities. With the U.S. defense budget for software modernization set to grow to over $58 billion in the coming fiscal year, the company is exceptionally well-positioned.

But beyond the financials, what really sets Defense Unicorns apart is their founding team’s passion for open source and commitment to data independence. By developing critical infrastructure as open source projects, they are democratizing access to powerful technologies while preventing vendor lock-in. This open philosophy resonates strongly in the national security community which understands the strategic importance of technological self-sufficiency.

In just over two years since launching, Defense Unicorns has already deployed AI capabilities across numerous classified DoD programs, secured a massive $300M contract for software delivery, and grown to over 125 employees supporting mission-critical national security efforts. Their rapid rise is a testament to the founders’ vision and the acute need their solutions are addressing.

As nation-state cyber threats increase and great power competition intensifies, providing the latest software and AI tools to those defending our national security has taken on unprecedented urgency. With their open source mindset and proven portable technologies, Defense Unicorns is emerging as a pivotal player ensuring the U.S. maintains its strategic technological advantage for years to come.

Written by Lily Polanco Follow
Junior News Writer @