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    SpaceWERX completes Innovate to Accelerate workshop

    SpaceWERX completes Innovate to Accelerate workshop

    Courtesy Photo | Arthur Grijalva, SpaceWERX Director, welcomes guests during opening remarks at the...... read more read more



    Story by Kristen Dennis 

    Air Force Research Laboratory

    EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - SpaceWERX completed the capstone event for its inaugural Innovate to Accelerate (I2A) program at the SpaceWERX hub at the BR-DGE, in El Segundo, California, April 25, 2024.

    I2A was a free 12-week intensive education program for SpaceWERX Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS) Small Business Innovation Research contract recipients. The first cohort featured 18 companies with 19 contracts between them, with a total of government funds equaling $30 million. These contracts all focused on providing solutions to the U.S. Space Force, to facilitate more rapid and flexible responses to emerging on-orbit threats by 2026, improving orbital defense capabilities.

    In this program, a group of qualifying companies learn the specific needs of the technology end-users and get feedback that helps them move from idea to technology development. This is intended to help attendees learn more about their sponsoring program office mission and structure, including program office-related operations.

    At the conclusion of this program, SpaceWERX hosted a demonstration exposition to connect companies with potential end-users. This marks the first I2A Expo Day to capstone the I2A program. This group of companies presented their technology in front of multiple possible stakeholders from academia, government, industry and other interested parties.
    Dr. Sian Proctor, gave the keynote address. Proctor was the first black female commercial astronaut, and first female commercial spaceship pilot. She spoke about the uniqueness of space work, and the importance of connection and complementary capabilities.

    "This event is important because entrepreneurs need to have a space to meet and connect to the ecosystem,” Proctor said. “When you solve for space, you’re also solving for earth.”

    The I2A Expo Day also marked the beginning of Project Vanguard: an AFWERX program which partners with the National Security Innovation Network to give companies in the Department of the Air Force (DAF) Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program access to private capital. This will facilitate the transition from Phase II to Phase III contracts, and gives participating companies access to end-user input from the private sector and intends to provide an outlet for program offices and government customers.

    These new ideas and processes have been cultivated through a series of SpaceWERX programs. They initially began as ideas generated in the SpaceWERX Challenge Definition Workshop, where experts gathered to flesh out problems and challenges. The ideas were then vetted within an AFWERX Challenge, which provided much-needed market research. The companies were then encouraged to submit a proposal to a recent Specific Topic SBIR Solicitation, in which DAF personnel requested technologies that fulfilled specific defense needs.

    Once the companies were awarded, they were able to participate in the I2A program. Moving forward, they will have access to traditional AFWERX support methods, such as financing, research contracts and investor-focused portfolio assistance.

    The technologies produced through these programs help to address specific needs within the Department of the Air Force. By bridging the technological gaps, the DAF intends to accelerate their technology and process development so that they can achieve a more modernized force that can compete with adversarial capabilities.

    "SpaceWERX finds great value in programs like I2A that help to foster the space technology community,” said Lt. Col. Vinny Pande, SpaceWERX Ventures lead. “The I2A cohort of companies represent some of the most promising solutions in meeting U.S. Space Force needs.”

    Following up on their Challenge Definition Workshop last November, the next I2A cohort opportunity will focus on “Alternative Positioning, Navigation and Timing” and “Digital Spaceport of the Future" this summer and will culminate in an expo day in the fall.

    The next Challenge Definition Workshop topic is “Sustained Space Maneuver,” and will begin in June. Learn more about the upcoming challenge here.

    About SpaceWERX
    As the innovation arm of the U.S. Space Force and a unique division within AFWERX, SpaceWERX inspires and empowers collaboration with innovators to accelerate capabilities and shape our future in space. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SpaceWERX employs 40 military, civilian and contractor personnel executing an annual $457 million budget. Additionally, SpaceWERX partners with Space Systems Command's Commercial Space Office (COMSO) as a collaborative program. Since it was aligned under AFRL in Aug. 2021, SpaceWERX has executed 906 contracts worth more than $690 million to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit

    About AFWERX
    As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 370 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 6,100 new contracts worth more than $4 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information,    


    Date Taken: 05.14.2024
    Date Posted: 05.16.2024 07:58
    Story ID: 471406

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