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AFRL Looks for Commercial Techs to Benefit Market and Warfighter

Dept. of Defense

The United States Air Force is beginning a new initiative to partner with businesses and innovators on commercial technologies that could benefit both the open market and the Air Force, essentially reversing the usual flow of technology transfer.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base signed a three-year, $750,000 contract with the Albuquerque-based ABQid business accelerator to help build collaborative relations with private companies working on new technologies.

The agreement could allow private companies to introduce commercial products to the military, straying from the traditional technology transfer agreements that push government technologies out of the lab and into the market.

“There’s a huge trend in the Air Force to accelerate innovation, and we recognize that folks in the community have amazing technologies,” AFRL Technology Engagement Office Director Matt Fetrow told the  Albuquerque Journal. “We want to find novel ways to tap into that.”

According to the article, the Air Force created a Defense Technology Accelerator in 2016 and then partnered with LightSpeed Innovations to launch a “Space Accelerator” for commercial entities with space-related technologies. This year, the Air Force joined the Techstars network to create a Boston-based Techstars Autonomous Technology Accelerator that offered a three-month program for companies with innovative products to counter enemy drones.

AFRL’s goal is to continue creating partnerships over a multi-year effort and include innovative ways to engage small businesses that may be deterred by what can be the long process of technology transfer.

“Small, innovative companies are often discouraged by the lengthy government acquisitions process,” Fetrow told the  Albuquerque Journal. “We need timelines consistent with what excites small businesses.”

To learn more about the program and working with AFRL New Mexico, visit



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