Published on
Jan 11, 2021

On November 17 – 20, 2020, the Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) hosted its Air & Industry Impact Week webinar that showcased the Institute’s collaboration with various Dayton Area entities including the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), Air Force Small Business Office and various businesses of the larger Dayton Area economic development community. The goal of the event was to give voice to innovators who make an impact on U.S. Air Force capabilities. With nearly 50 speakers, moderators and panelists across more than 30 sessions, the event provided critical opportunity for the innovation ecosystem to explore the impact of Dayton’s defense, industry and academic partnerships that shape and evolve the next generation of U.S. Air Force innovation. The event was provided free by the WBI and AFRL Small Business Office.

According to its website, “the WBI is a cutting-edge center for innovation and technology commercialization that provides breakthrough solutions for the U.S. Air Force's most complex initiatives by leveraging resident experts, unique facilities, disruptive innovation processes and extensive networks.” The Institute, which is an AFRL partnership intermediary, was founded in 2002 in Dayton, Ohio.

Event Overview & Event Topics

The event participants engaged in a rich exchange of information, expertise, tools and visions surrounding the U.S. Air Force science and technology ecosystem in Dayton, Ohio. The event featured various topics, including but not limited to:

  • A review of the U.S. Air Force 2030 Science and Technology (S&T) strategy
  • An AFRL Small Business Hub Super Collider on the topic of U.S. Air Force contracting
  • A virtual poster session involving 30 students from the Dayton Area who make up the future defense and industry workforce
  • National universities and their Small Business Technology Transfer ( STTR ) development programs
  • A U.S. Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office Additive Olympics panel that discussed the future of additive manufacturing
  • Various defense and industry representatives from Ohio and beyond who shared their tools for businesses and programs bringing new capabilities to the U.S. Air Force and regional infrastructure

Parallax Advanced Research and its Science & Technology Enhancement Programs that support the Dayton Area science and technology ecosystem

Parallax Advanced Research, which is the parent company of the Academic Partnership Engagement Experience (APEX) – a U.S. Air Force partnership intermediary, made substantial contributions to the webinar through its APEX , Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN), Launch Dayton and Tech Warrior Enterprise programs. Parallax established these government, academia and small business-motivated science and technology enhancement programs to enhance science and technology for the Nation. The effectiveness of Parallax’s programs is based on their being well-defined and aligned with national science and technology strategies and goals, particularly as they affect the academic and small business sectors. Parallax’s goal for the programs is to connect the government and private sectors and contribute to the improvement of the entire innovation to impact spectrum for Ohio and the Nation.

Executive leadership from each Parallax program participated in sessions offering information and expertise on critical topics relevant to the AFRL , AFRL Small Business Office and small business network in the State of Ohio. The timestamps below provide an overview of their panels and discussion topics.

USAF APEX logo

APEX cultivates innovation by expanding the American research enterprise for the U.S. Air Force by engaging, connecting and enabling innovators across academia, industry and the Department of Defense (DoD) that support the needs of the U.S. Air Force.

OFRN logo

The OFRN is a State of Ohio-focused research and development program with a mission to stimulate Ohio's innovation economy by funding R&D projects that meet federal laboratory requirements and build statewide university and industry collaborations.

Tech Warrior Enterprise logo

Tech Warrior Enterprise provides facilities and technical evaluation support services to test new technologies via demonstration in relevant settings and in collaboration with government users.

Launch Dayton Logo

Launch Dayton is a collaborative entrepreneurial support effort that supports Dayton Region entrepreneurs by cultivating an easily accessible resource environment, creating high-caliber programming and building a network of champions, mentors and resource providers that help entrepreneurs succeed.

Key Event Timestamps

Day 2 - SBIR STTR 101 Expanding Outside Known Networks Panel

Mary Margaret Evans, moderator and APEX Executive Director, introduced the panelists Dr. Kate Gilpin, national engagement director at APEX and Scott Koorndyk, president of The Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton. Gilpin described the primary goal of APEX’s national outreach capability, which is to facilitate collaborations between universities developing great technology and small businesses that can commercialize that technology and link these academia-industry partnerships with key stakeholders within the U.S. Air Force. APEX makes these key partnerships happen through its free team-matchmaking and process navigation services. The panelists answered relevant questions about the Small Business Innovation Research ( SBIR ) and STTR programs.

Koorndyk spoke about the 125 companies in The Entrepreneurs Center’s portfolio. The Center supports its company customers with programming on corporate formation, venture development, business development and raising funds for investment, growth and to scale. He also described the SBIR Technology Acceleration Programs (TAP) that are run in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force and the AFRL and encourages the development of innovative, market oriented, technology-based products and services. Gilpin and Koorndyk discussed the answers to the following questions:

  • [00:05:47-00:11:10] What is the difference between the SBIR and STTR programs?
  • [00:11:12-00:14:30] How does a company or innovator choose between applying for an SBIR or STTR award? Examples of suitable situations when choosing between SBIR and STTR is provided.
  • [00:14:31- 0:19:22] How can a university start engaging with or prepare for the SBIR / STTR program?
  • [00:19:27- 00:22:11] How are universities invited to participate in the STTR program?
  • [00:22:20-0:24:59] What are programs that can help companies decide whether the SBIR program is right for them?
  • [00:25:00-00:30:54] What are examples of untapped regions, markets and technologies that provide value to the U.S. Air Force for SBIR / STTR funding?
  • [00:30:55-00:35:35] How can organizations expand their network? How are APEX and The Entrepreneurs Center getting new partnership groups, involving academia, industry and the government, to engage on U.S. Air Force science and technology innovation?
  • [00:35:38-00:37:32] What is the off-cycle SBIR / STTR program released by the U.S. Air Force? Why must businesses try for the SBIR / STTR award program?
  • [00:37:48-00:40:48] How should a business react to SBIR / STTR partnership outreach efforts?
  • [00:40:50-00:46:03] What are the benefits of engaging with the SBIR / STTR program?

Day 2 - STTR Success Stories Panel

USAF SBIR/STTR showcase panel results

The AFRL SBIR/STTR Lead Program Manager Anissa Lumpkin introduced the STTR Showcase session during which she spoke about virtual events in 2020 and the tremendous advocacy from U.S. Air Force programs for projects supporting the U.S. Air Force national defense strategy. Under the banner of Air Force Ventures (AFVentures), the U.S. Air Force SBIR / STTR program continues its commitment to building partnerships with acquisition programs, warfighter organizations and innovators.

  • [00:03:09- 00:06:17] Founder and CEO Steve Flaherty of the start-up necoTech, talked about finding the APEX process navigation services partway through an AFWERX Phase I solicitation round and how APEX ’s coaching and hands-on approach were critical to necoTech’s success with the STTR program. necoTech is a sustainable infrastructure start-up based in Ohio.
  • [00:06:18-00:08:35 ] Co-Founder and CEO Kyle Gillis provided an overview of his company IconicAir, a software start-up pioneering a new method of emissions by monitoring and reporting assets and facilities in the energy sector. Gillis explained how critical APEX services were to IconicAir’s success with the STTR process.
  • [00:08:36-00:12:40 ] Jamie Bowerman, founder of BowerBags, provided an overview of his company that supports the warfighter by producing ergonomically designed load bags. Bowerman explained the critical role that the Tech Warrior Enterprise program had on BowerBags’ success with Phase I and Phase II STTR awards.
  • [00:12:41-00:14:404 ] Nicholas Riplinger, president of Battle Sight Technologies - a rapid innovation and commercialization firm in support of the warfighter – provided an overview of his company and how critical a role the Tech Warrior Enterprise program had on his company’s commercial success.
  • [00:14:04 ] The U.S. Air Force SBIR / STTR Program Chief Technology Officer, Kelley Kernan introduced Dave Nestic, STTR director of APEX and John Matecki, director of training and exercise of the Tech Warrior Enterprise.

Questions covered during the STTR showcase included:

  • [00:15:21-00:18:00] What can companies expect from the APEX process navigation service? What are APEX ’s team matchmaking, consultation cohorts and pre-award support services provided during AFWERX and U.S. Air Force solicitations?
  • [00:18:01-00:19:41] What is required to be successful with and how does one begin an STTR proposal process?
  • [00:19:44- 00:22:23 ] What makes Tech Warrior Enterprise unique? Tech Connect and Tech Warrior Ops are explained.
  • [00:22:24-00:24:29 ] How can companies succeed in the Tech Warrior Enterprise program? What are the characteristics of companies that succeed in the Tech Warrior program?
  • [00:24:32-00:26:22] How can companies succeed by using APEX process navigation services? What are the characteristics of companies that have won STTR awards?
  • [00:26:40-00:29:42 ] How do companies advance in U.S. Air Force capability? How can companies get started with the Tech Warrior Enterprise program?
  • [00:29:43- 00:33:46] What are Tech Warrior Enterprise events? How does Tech Warrior Enterprise handle events and challenges during COVID?
  • [00:33:55-00:38:32] What are the APEX and Tech Warrior networks? How does Tech Warrior and APEX work together for the success of its clients?
  • [00:38:40-00:47:13] What is good advice for researchers with great technology that is not business ready? What are success stories of researchers with great technology that were not previously business ready?
  • [00:47:22] What are U.S. Air Force patents and Federal Agency patents available for licensing?

Day 2 -Tech Warrior Tried and Tested Panel

Tech Warrior Enterprise webinar recap

Acting Director of the U.S. Air Force SBIR / STTR Program, Matt Howard, moderated the panel and introduced panelists John Matecki, director of training and exercise of Tech Warrior Enterprise; Jamie Bowerman, founder of BowerBags and Erin Dutter, director of government partnerships at ARYSE. Panelists described challenges faced by small businesses new to the DoD arena and shared how the Tech Warrior Enterprise training and network play a critical role in facilitating small business success in commercialization and interaction with the DoD . The Panel covered the following topics:

  • [00:02:30-00:06:47] What is Tech Warrior Enterprise?
  • [00:06:55-00:08:35] What are companies that can become part of Tech Warrior Enterprise? What new concepts has Tech Warrior Enterprise tried during COVID?
  • [00:09:03-00:12:14] What are the results of Tech Warrior Enterprise?
  • [00:12:27- 00:15:36] What is BowerBags?
  • [00:15:40-00:17:45] What is ARYSE? Why did ARYSE decide to participate in the U.S. Air Force SBIR / STTR and Tech Warrior programs?
  • [00:17:47- 00:20:48] What are the roadblocks that BowerBags and ARYSE faced when engaging with the defense market prior to participating in Tech Warrior Enterprise? How did Tech Warrior Enterprise help solve those roadblocks?
  • [00:20:49 – 00:23:30 ] What are the typical challenges faced by companies interested in engaging with the DoD ?
  • [00:23:31- 00:28:37 ] What expectations and goals did BowerBags and ARYSE have at the beginning of their engagement with Tech Warrior Enterprise? What are the positive experienced that BowerBags and ARYSE had with Tech Warrior Enterprise?
  • [00:28:42-00:33:30] What developments came of BowerBags and ARYSE because of their participation in Tech Warrior Enterprise and its associated entrepreneurial network?
  • [00:33:50-00:38:23] What is the reason for and value of Tech Warrior Enterprise?
  • [00:38:25-00:40:18] What is good advice for companies gearing up to participate in Tech Warrior Enterprise?
  • [00:40:20-00:50:13 ] Panelists Q&A: How has participating in Tech Warrior Enterprise improved small business interaction with the U.S. Air Force?
  • [00:49:25] Where can one learn more about Tech Warrior Enterprise?

Day 4 - Critical Tools from the State of Ohio

Tim Sweeney, sector director of advanced manufacturing and aerospace at JobsOhio – a leading economic development organization in the State of Ohio, moderated the panel. Panelists included Dave Nestic, STTR director for APEX , supporting the OFRN - a program administered by Parallax and the Ohio State University and funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education and Phil Raterman, director at Fastlane - a development services agency and Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) in the Dayton Region.  Panelists discussed the following topics:

  • [00:2:32- 00:05:20] What is the OFRN and how does it work with small businesses in Ohio?
  • [00:05:24- 00:10:17] What is Fastlane, its partnerships and scope of services and MEP system?
  • [00:10:19-00:14:50] What is JobsOhio, its role for small businesses and its focus areas that include job creation and tools that promote company growth?
  • [00:15:13- 00:16:55] What are the types of start-ups that the OFRN supports and the range of services it provides?
  • [00:17:00-00:29:50] Panelists Q&A: Support services provided by the OFRN, Fastlane and JobsOhio
  • [00:29:52-00:37:41] How do small businesses and universities partner on federal funding opportunities?  
  • [00:38:00-00:41:56] How does Fastlane interact with the tech identification and maturation pipeline?
  • [00:41:58-00:43:55] How does the OFRN service the U.S. Air Force and DoD organizations?
  • [00:44:07] How does one get in contact with the OFRN, Fastlane and JobsOhio?

Summary

The WBI Air & Industry Impact Week webinar provided opportunity for innovators, entrepreneurs, organizations and subject matter experts across science and technology in academia, industry and the government to interact and exchange critical information about the tools and services that are available for U.S. Air Force engagement. This annual event connects the larger science and technology and research and development ecosystems in Dayton in support of the U.S. Air Force warfighter. The event is designed to promote local small businesses and the commercialization and growth of U.S. Air Force warfighter capabilities.

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