SOFWERX innovation lab contracts $116 million, hundreds of projects, official says (video)News
May 09, 2023
SOF WEEK -- TAMPA, Fla. The SOFWERX innovation lab has contracted $116.1 million through 749 purchase orders to date, and the head of the lab is urging more small contractors to reach out to them to demonstrate their products, said Leslie Babich, director of the lab, in her comments to attendees at the annual SOF Week conference on Monday at the Tampa Convention Center.
SOFWERX is an innovation lab and collaboration facility located in Tampa that is dedicated to accelerating technology development and solving complex problems for the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and other government agencies. Through a variety of programs, events, and initiatives, SOFWERX brings together experts from academia, industry, and government to develop technology solutions in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cyber security, and more. The organization aims to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs, researchers, and technologists to collaborate with the military and drive innovation.
In recent years, SOFWERX has helped more and more contractors to engage with USSOCOM, facilitating everything from a knowledge transfer -- sharing a novel idea or technology with USSOCOM -- to a transition -- which is when a project results in a program of record. SOFWERX has enabled a total of 668 knowledge transfers and 54 transitions, Babich said.
Additionally, the lab has led to projects being adopted without becoming a program of record (consignment) or validated as a concept (validations). There have been 101 consignments and 282 validations, she said.
SOFWERX has also facilitated 278 events, and in May 2020 launched Tech Tuesday to help contractors demonstrate their technology virtually due to the pandemic – and the event continues today. Babich said there are 835 government personnel in the ecosystem, meaning the tech gets lots of eyeballs, and 1,036 technologies have been submitted with 527 presented to users and tech stakeholders.
SOFWERX was launched in 2015 with a charter to "create and maintain a platform to accelerate delivery of innovative capabilities to USSOCOM and facilitate capability refinement via exploration, experimentation, and assessment of promising tech," according to a slide at Babich's presentation.
Babich said the benefit to USSOCOM is that it results in "lightning-fast" contract awards, market research is done by SOFWERX, and the agency gets access to non-traditional vendors with useful technology. For industry, the advantage is that industry often doesn't have to visit USSOCOM in person, the agency protects a company's intellectual property, and it gives contractors opportunities to get their technology in front of USSOCOM and other potential customers.
For more SOF Week 2023 coverage, visit www.militaryembedded.com/sofweek.