AFWERX Challenge is a fast and efficient way to engage with the government, and also to collaborate with other companies, academia and investors.
Led by the Department of the Air Force, the primary objective of a Challenge is to solve a mission-critical problem and create positive impacts for the Department of Defense. Companies and academia can quickly and easily submit ideas, concepts, technologies, products, and full solutions.
AFWERX Challenge is a collaborative problem-solving approach that unites business, academia, and the Defense Department to uncover and implement solutions as fast as possible. The goal is high-quality, rapid market research aimed at finding the right solutions for USAF/USSF customers regardless of the size, structure, or the origin of the organization providing them.
Through the phases of a Challenge, industry, and academia engage with a Challenge Sponsor to help define the problem and the desired outcome, explore solution components and ideas to solve the problem, submit solutions, and ultimately receive a contract to implement the solution. Through design thinking workshops, interactive networking and webinars, transparent crowdsourcing, and open showcases, the AFWERX Challenge approach to solving mission-critical problems is unparalleled and supports different streamlined contracting methods.
Along the way, meaningful connections and collaboration opportunities are fostered between private sector companies, academia, and the Government through workshops, webinars, networking events, and private pitches. This means more face-to-face interactions with government decision-makers, investors, and other companies focused on driving innovation. Many of our collaborators describe this aspect as something that’s never been possible before!
Challenges are open to anyone with a solution, so garage tinkerers, start-ups, small businesses, large companies, defense contractors, and academics. Challenges are open to the US and any allied country.
Our mission is to solve problems and enhance the effectiveness of the service by enabling thoughtful, deliberate, ground-up innovation.
AFWERX Challenge helps find solutions to government problems and develop them into a prototype in as little as 20 weeks.
When Hurricane Michael devastated Tyndall Air Force base in 2018, the Air Force and Leadership at Tyndall opted to set the pace for a modern base, a base that could help serve as a template for the rest of the Air Force. Project Officers from Tyndall initiated an AFWERX Challenge to cast a wide net, asking industry to imagine the base of the future.
The result of the Base of the Future Challenge was that Project Officers and Base Leaders could hand-select from an array of tailored solutions and solution providers. It was essentially a mini-trade show built around specific Air Force requirements, and it was successful enough that they returned for a second Challenge.
Furthermore, AFWERX Challenge supports streamlined contracting methods. Solutions that have made it to the “Showcase” phase in a Challenge with a Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) option, you can use it as a contracting vehicle to any of those awardable solutions.
For industry and academia, there are many benefits to participating in an AFWERX Challenge.
Access to government end-users and decision-makers
If you’re looking to expand your products to other markets, including the government, AFWERX Challenge is an effective way to quickly get your solution in front of government decision-makers, investors, end-users, and potential partners.
You’ll have access to workshops, webinars, networking events, and private pitches throughout the crowdsource campaign. This means more face-to-face interactions with government decision-makers, investors, and other individuals focused on driving innovation in areas you are interested in.
Accelerated decision making and feedback
AFWERX Challenge is built for speed and to accelerate change. Every aspect of our process has aggressive timelines to get decisions made quickly so the DoD can benefit as soon as possible from the solutions submitted. From the start of the submission process to the awarding of a contract is usually only 16 weeks.
Immediately after the Showcase, the Challenge Sponsor team decides which teams they would like to contract with. The next step is typically a Request for a Proposal and a Statement of Work submitted by the solution provider.
In addition to the Challenge Sponsor, there are other contracting opportunities with other Department of the Air Force customers and end-users using the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) if one is available. The CSO is open to anyone in the Department of the Air Force, as a contracting pathway.
Easy to understand Challenge Statement
Government and military personnel have a unique language riddled with acronyms and terms specific to their field. AFWERX Challenge acts as a conduit between the government and industry to translate government jargon into a more accessible language. Our Challenge Statement is a 2-page document that is written in plain English.
Quick and easy submission process
The submission to a Challenge can take as little as two hours to complete, or as long as you would like. We have seen companies make a successful submission that only discovered the challenge on the final day of the crowdsourcing process.
Open to anyone
As long as you are from a country allied to the United States, AFWERX Challenge is open to you. You could represent a large company, a small company, a defense contractor, or just be someone who has never previously worked with the government, in the US or overseas. Typically, 70% of submissions received to a Challenge have never worked with the government before, so if this is new to you, you are not alone!
Credibility for your company
If you are selected for a Showcase, kudos to you and your team. You were selected in the top 10-20% of all submissions by a team of subject matter experts. You could let your existing customers know and potential investors may see this as an opportunity.