Air Force innovation hub is looking to help tech start-ups
New Vegas tech space for entrepreneurs to solve problems war soldiers and pilots experience at bases in the country.
LAS VEGAS – It may take years for an innovative tech idea to get the final approval from the u.s. Air Force.
But the military branch made up of a tube that will push ideas to the top faster – eliminate layers of bureaucracy and a long approval process that, in principle, green light ideas as soon as they are almost superfluous.
AFWERX, opened last month in Las Vegas, is a government-funded space, or the “innovation hub” for everyone who wants to pitch an idea and begin to work with the support of the U.S. air force. It serves two purposes – to help the air force find short and long-term solutions to problems, and to help entrepreneurs pitch their inventions to the right people.
“We don’t have to go through the same hoops the government is doing,” said AFWERX Vegas director Mark Rowland.
Anyone can make a pitch at the innovation hub as long as the entrepreneur is offering a project that can be used in the air force. If selected, the hub provides mentors who will guide them through a fast-track program that will assist them with their startup off the ground.
The idea is not seen as an attempt to circumvent the approval process, but to accelerate.
“Imagine that the current acquisition process is a snail, we give the snail a jetpack,” said Rowland.
In a two-day competition for more than 60 start-ups and high-tech companies to come up with ideas to secure AMERICAN military bases, exhibitors presented ideas of the camera swarming to the attack drones to flexible body armor. They each gave live demonstrations and were given five minutes to make the sale of their technology on stage.
“Our job is to build the structure and culture of innovation. We have to convince, and to learn to innovators that their innovative ideas are scalable and accessible,” said Maj. Gen. Bradley D. Spacey of the united states air force. “Most of the people junior within the air force, have the most knowledge, but do not have the authority to take their innovations to the next level. We aim to change that.”
As a team, an idea has been selected by the air force, and to provide for a coveted military contract.
The officials of companies such as Protective Innovations show to showcase their inventions. The company came up with a device that detects an active shooter location on the same way as a fire alarm detects smoke. That has become an issue in the recent school shootings, where the police were not able to find the location of the shooter – probably costing lives.
“In a fire, there’s no time for a 911 call, there is no need for someone to give detailed information. The fire alarm will sound an alarm for people in the building and sends it to the fire department,” said Chris Perrine, CEO of Protective Innovations and a former air force officer. “We do exactly the same using exactly the same network, so if shots were fired in this building is now an alarm sounds, so we could protect ourselves and the Las Vegas PD would receive a notification with the address and the phone number of the emergency services.”
Another team looking for a military contact Goal Arm. The company refuels and firearms drones in recovery missions, while they fly in the air instead of the drones to return to their departure spot.
“You should be looking to innovators, such as all of us here on AFWERX, to bring in the new technology,” said Jeff McChesney, CEO and founder. “AFWERX gives us the ability to say: ‘Air Force, we can help you move faster, we can help you innovate faster, we can offer solutions to the war fighters as soon as the enemy brings their own systems on board.'”
A new hub will also open in Austin, texas, with future expansion planned in other cities.
Andrew Craft is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Las Vegas, Nevada . Follow him on twitter: @AndrewCraft