Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate

The Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) has a long and rich legacy in radar, communications, intelligence, command and control, information technologies, and many other groundbreaking technologies that date back to the 1950s. The Directorate notably established a significant cyber assurance research program well before it was mainstream. Because of a continued and effective management team, AFRL/RI has enhanced its position in these areas and developed an enormous portfolio of technology available for technology transfer and economic development opportunities.

A very robust information assurance and cyber operations community of developers has very quietly grown up around the AFRL/RI, servicing the commercial and military markets. The Directorate’s program has grown more than 400 local jobs supporting cyber research and cyber tool development and deployment. Furthermore, Syracuse University, Clarkson University, Utica College and two local community colleges were early adopters of establishing information assurance and cyber defense programs as a part of their graduate and undergraduate curriculums to leverage their proximity to the Directorate’s programs and satisfy the regional demand for cyber professionals.

In 2016, AFRL/RI established a Commercialization Academy Program that pairs students and businesspeople with federal technologies with the goal of launching early-stage ventures. The Commercialization Academy is unique in that it brings in teams of businesspeople who fit one of two categories: they expect an AFRL-developed technology can be combined with their own invention to make it better, or they envision a product that can be built around intellectual property licensed from AFRL. Over a dozen potential technology transfer teams that were invited to the academy at the start of this year were eventually whittled down to eight. These remaining teams were coached through a disciplined process, and ultimately pitched their ideas to a panel of judges and a live audience for cash prizes.

In cooperation with its Partnership Intermediary, the Griffiss Institute, and New York State, the Directorate continued to create incubator opportunities for small businesses. The Griffiss Institute is the region’s official state incubator and has been granted $125K to initiate its efforts. Additionally, the State has made available “hotspot” status, which confers tax advantages on the participants of its incubator. All of the successful startups from the 2016 Commercialization Academy are being incubated and receiving tax benefits from the “hotspot.” 

The Directorate leads the Air Force in the number of patents, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, and Educational Partnership Agreements; has some of the country’s top scientists and engineers working in its halls; and is eager to invite the region’s entrepreneurial community to take a closer look at some of its most promising inventions. New initiatives, along with its already successful tech transfer program, will empower its community of innovators and serial entrepreneurs to envision commercial applications for these technologies that the Air Force may have never envisioned.

Contact: Brian Abbe, (315) 330-4962, brian.abbe@us.af.mil

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Northeast