Bottom Line Up Front: AFWERX is the Air Force business incubator that matches up techie innovators in the service with outside companies or academia.
So What Is AFWERX?
It is the Air Force’s business incubator to connect money, companies, Airmen, and technology so that the latest and greatest tech makes it into the hands of active-duty service members as super fast as possible. The point is to hurry up tech development by short-circuiting the bureaucracy and getting startup innovators matched with the resources they need to put the latest technology to work for the Air Force.
There are three main parts; there’s one to help private companies, one to help active-duty Airmen, and one to fully develop the tech from the first two parts to deploy into the field.
For Industry Ideas, there is AFVentures
If your company has an idea of something cool and awesome that you think the Air Force could use, AFVentures is the place for you.
They have two ways to submit your idea:
The Small Business Innovation Research Open Topic, for small businesses with less than 500 employees and is American-owned.
The Small Business Technology Transfer Open Topic, for small businesses with less than 500 employees, is at least 51% American-owned, has 40% of the work already complete, and has partnered with a university, research center or non-profit development organization to do at least 30% of the work.
For both of these, the Air Force has a list of things they are actively searching for – they’re called “Focus Areas” – but they are very open to things they haven’t thought of. The page has a ton of resources, sources of funding, areas of interest and so on. They also hold open-house “Pitch Days” where you can just go in and tell them all about your idea.
For Ideas From Folks Currently Serving In The Air Force
Who could possibly have better ideas for how to help Airmen do their jobs than the very people who do those jobs? The Air Force has a program for active-duty Airmen to submit their ideas called Spark. If you’re reading this and you’re currently in the Air Force and you’ve been itching to tell someone about a fantastic tech idea you have to make your job easier, go give them a call!
Your Idea Is Now Ready for Prime Time?
Time for Part Three: Agility Prime. This is when your idea is so far along the development pipeline that it’s ready for full-scaling and deployment into the field.
Interestingly, the flagship idea currently at this stage is a flying car!! It’s called Agility Prime and, once again in case you missed it, flying car!! They give it some boring military name like Vertical Lift Blah Blah, but HOLY COW FLYING CARS ARE COMING!!!
What does it mean for me?
Free money! The Air Force is twiddling its thumbs waiting for you to submit your cool idea!
The old red tape and bureaucracy is gone; time to just do the work and get paid! Give them a call!