2015 Laboratory Director of the Year Northeast
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) has a long and rich legacy in radar, communications, intelligence, command and control, information technologies, and many other groundbreaking technologies that date back to the 1950s. As Director, George Duchak leads basic research and advanced development activities in information exploitation, information fusion, information understanding and management, cyber operations, connectivity and networks, command and control, and advanced computing architectures.
Duchak has had an enormous impact on the Directorate’s technology transfer program in the short time he has been Director. He has revolutionized its processes and culture by tripling the technical staff dedicated to technology transfer, establishing a vigorous culture within the Directorate to protect its intellectual property, encouraging the staff to enter into new Cooperative Research and Development Agreements and Education Partnership Agreements to enhance their programs, and visibly strengthening the Directorate’s Office of Research and Technology Applications.
Duchak was instrumental in developing a technical culture around the Directorate to take advantage of its nanotechnology program. As a result, New York State has established a new nanotechnology hub located near the Directorate that will create 1000 high tech jobs in the area, opened a $125 million facility to support chip manufacturing, and realigned its State University campus as a Polytechnic University focusing on nanotechnology. In addition, Duchak actively sponsored his partnership intermediary, the Griffiss Institute, in obtaining special incubator status within New York State. As a result, the Institute was designated as the region’s official state incubator and granted $120,000 from New York State to initiate its first year of efforts. Additionally, the State is making available “hotspot” status, which will confer tax advantages on the participants of its incubator.
Most recently Duchak piloted a new, innovative startup accelerator, called NY Furnace, designed to form, fund, incubate, and launch new companies. An intensive, nine-month accelerator experience for startups, Furnace provides seed funding, office space, and access to top industry mentors to commercialize discoveries made in Air Force laboratories. This new process helps entrepreneurs create new startup companies, while also offering some technologies to existing companies in the region to help them grow and develop. Through Duchak’s initiatives, the program attracted the support of a wide range of local, regional, and statewide economic development organizations, colleges and universities, startup incubators, accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists. State and local economic development organizations pledged $200,000, and venture capitalists offered the potential of $1.5 million in seed funds.