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## AFWERX Launches IGNITE Platform to Connect Defense Users and Small Businesses

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — AFWERX has recently introduced IGNITE, a groundbreaking platform that facilitates interaction between defense users and thousands of small businesses that have received Department of the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards. This innovative tool enhances collaboration between the government and industry by providing a controlled line of communication for technology developers and end users, resulting in strengthened integration and adoption of these technologies.

IGNITE serves as a crucial tool to connect the broader Department of Defense ecosystem, according to Col. Elliott Leigh, the AFWERX director and chief commercialization officer for the DAF. It empowers Airmen, Guardians, and joint forces to quickly identify and access cutting-edge technologies, thereby tapping into American ingenuity to address urgent defense challenges.

In order to develop IGNITE, AFWERX partnered with Mobilize, a data analytics and artificial intelligence company based in Colorado, through a Phase III award. The objective was to involve the small business community and leverage their expertise. Through IGNITE, businesses that have received DAF SBIR and STTR awards within the past five years are automatically added to the platform and can simply log in to claim and populate their storefront. IGNITE then facilitates the interaction between small business users and defense users who are already active on the VISION platform, thus enabling the exploration of sole-source justifiable capabilities.

The development and testing of IGNITE have spanned almost a year, and since its launch in July, it has provided defense users with secure access to a multitude of pre-vetted companies within a Common Access Card-enabled environment. Staff Sgt. Kyndal Lievano, previous Spark Cell lead at Pope Army Airfield in North Carolina and current AFWERX Spark Cell coordinator of the eastern United States and Europe, emphasizes the time-saving capability of IGNITE. By submitting a problem through the individual user interface, VISION now provides options of companies that can potentially offer solutions, saving considerable time and effort.

IGNITE is designed with intentional communication guardrails, allowing defense users to adjust small business access depending on their current defense needs, such as project requirements, budget constraints, and timing considerations. This customization feature creates opportunities for businesses to establish valuable connections with potential future customers and end users.

AFWERX’s VISION platform, which IGNITE is built upon, has proven to be a valuable tool for many defense users across different branches of the DoD. Kathy Reid, former Emerald Spark Cell lead at the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, attests to VISION’s ability to handle a robust portfolio of over 100 companies and approximately 400 ideas. The platform’s task, data, and deliverable management features, combined with its connectivity with other installations worldwide, have enabled unprecedented collaboration and information sharing among various Air Force bases.

With the launch of IGNITE, the integration of innovative ideas from multiple bases becomes even more streamlined and efficient. This collaborative approach is not only limited to internal DoD initiatives but also extends to industry partners and academia through the STTR program. Kathy Reid envisions a seamless operation where all stakeholders work collectively as a team to address complex problem sets.

To provide further assistance, AFWERX personnel will be available for demonstrations and to support companies in claiming their company storefront during the Fed Supernova event. Fed Supernova is an innovation-focused networking event for government, industry, and investors, hosted by the Capital Factory in Austin, Texas, from August 22-24.

Defense users and small businesses interested in learning more about VISION and IGNITE and registering as a user can visit the official website [here](provide URL).

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