The U.S. Air Force has tentatively selected over 500 companies for contracts worth $550M combined as part of an initiative launched with its AFWERX innovation arm and Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Program.
The service said Friday that the AFVentures effort includes a strategic financing initiative where the firms will get a total of over $200M in government funding as well as $350M in private funds.
Will Roper, assistant Air Force secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics and a 2020 Wash100 winner, announced AFVentures during the one-day Spark Collider event that the service launched in partnership with startup accelerator Capital Factory.
The virtual conference, which includes the Air Force’s “Pitch Bowl” effort, saw over 2K attendees that took part in a range of collaborative activities such as presentations, keynotes and other discussions.
“I’m here today to tell you that launching AFVentures and making this successful is the most important thing we’re going to do,” he said Roper. “If we’re not working with the best innovators in the world, then we will lose the technology advantage that we have. Getting this right is not just innovation, it is imperative.”
The Air Force said it launched the online event in lieu of a three-day conference due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.