AFWERX Director’s Insights on Tech Startups Shaping Power Competition

AFWERX Director Highlights Tech Startups’ Role in Power Competition

Leaders in the tech industry gathered at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas from March 8-11 to address national and global security challenges. AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force, plays a crucial role in acquiring advanced technologies to tackle these challenges. The event featured discussions on artificial intelligence, autonomy, cyber security, venture capital, and more, providing valuable insights for small companies navigating the defense innovation ecosystem.

Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director, emphasized the importance of innovation in the context of Great Power Competition. He highlighted the need for cutting-edge technologies from startups and military personnel to stay ahead of adversaries. By fielding technologies first, the United States can gain a strategic advantage in wartime situations, giving warfighters an edge over their opponents.

American ingenuity was hailed as the country’s “superpower,” enabling it to succeed in conflicts. Leigh warned of adversaries seeking to exploit this superpower by targeting universities, companies, and intellectual property. To counter these threats, AFWERX showcased success stories from its divisions and emphasized the importance of collaboration with organizations like AFVentures, Prime, SpaceWERX, and Spark.

During the event, Leigh participated in the launch of the Joint Defense Innovation Space in Austin, a collaborative workspace aimed at scaling the adoption of commercial technology within the Department of Defense. This initiative seeks to enhance strategic impact and facilitate engagement with tech companies, particularly startups and small firms, to drive innovation in the defense sector.

Overall, the event underscored the critical role of tech startups in shaping the future of national security and maintaining U.S. supremacy in an era of Great Power Competition. By harnessing innovation and fostering collaboration, AFWERX aims to stay at the forefront of technological advancements and ensure the country’s readiness to address evolving threats.