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Air Force expands key resource for small businesses to mature technology

  • Published
  • By Joe Cogliano Ctr, Air Force SBIR/STTR Program

An increasingly popular Air Force event is expanding to provide small companies with even more opportunities to refine their technology.

The annual Operation Tech Warrior exercise – conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory and sponsored by the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Program – is now part of a year-round enterprise administered by Wright State University’s National Center for Medical Readiness in Fairborn, Ohio.

Operation Tech Warrior continues as the capstone event while two other programs, Tech Warrior OPS and Tech Warrior CONNECT, are also available to assist small businesses as part of an expanded Tech Warrior Enterprise.

Held in the fall, Operation Tech Warrior combines combat simulations with technology integration and demonstrations. The event allows AFRL scientists to observe, and sometimes even step into the warfighter role, while small businesses gather feedback from their AFRL peers and push the limits of promising new systems by integrating them in a relevant setting.  

Similar in nature, the new Tech Warrior OPS event will be held at the center earlier in the year with warfighters and first responders in the training and exercise roles. Small businesses will be able to ask questions and gather specific data by interviewing the operators of their technology.

Tech Warrior CONNECT is a year-round program that places technology from small businesses into the hands of potential users, who then conduct offsite evaluations for up to several days. This demonstration environment is tailored to suit individual small business needs.

Participation in the Tech Warrior Enterprise is free for companies that qualify.

“Tech Warrior has been a tremendous asset to both the Air Force and the small business community,” said David Shahady, director of the Air Force SBIR/STTR Program. “We hope this expansion allows companies to have an even better understanding of their Air Force customer and create an even more impactful demonstration of their technology.”

A webinar on the new Tech Warrior Enterprise, as well as an introduction to the National Center for Medical Readiness, will take place on December 6, 2017 from 2 to 4 p.m. EST. This presentation is also open to the public at AFRL’s Small Business Hub at 444 East Second St. in Dayton, Ohio. For more information click here.

The National Center for Medical Readiness has a wide variety of assets and capabilities to assist small businesses in technology development including: traditional classrooms, as well as a nontraditional classroom that can be used as an emergency operations center; breakout and SIM lab space; a multi-level industrial complex that can simulate a variety of environments and scenarios; and 60 acres that provide settings for mission and disaster training simulations.

“The National Center for Medical Readiness is proud to come alongside the Air Force and the small business community to help grow this vision,” said Jim Gruenberg, deputy director of the center. “We look forward to helping innovation become reality for our nation’s warfighters.”

The upside of the Tech Warrior Enterprise is that businesses get to “play” in an environment without the fear of their products and services not working as planned.

“We encourage companies through the Tech Warrior Enterprise to fail early and fail often because that exposes what needs to be fixed and is the best way to quickly mature products and technology,” Shahady said.

Any small businesses with an Air Force research and development contract, especially those involved in the Air Force SBIR/STTR Program, may request to participate in the Tech Warrior Enterprise by working with its government contact or by contacting or

The Air Force SBIR/STTR Program and its small business partners strive for advancements that support Air Force Major Commands and meet near-term critical needs while filling the pipeline with potential game-changing technologies. In stressing innovation over invention, the program works to drive down costs, get the best new technology to the warfighter and boost the economy through small business growth.