AFWERX to attend South by Southwest conference

  • Published
  • By Katie Milligan
Representatives from all four core divisions of AFWERX -- Prime, Spark, AFVentures, and SpaceWERX -- will be at the South by Southwest, or SXSW, conference March 10-19, 2023 in Austin, Texas. The Capital Factory, an entrepreneurial firm aimed at connecting innovative technologists and startups to a nationwide network of resources, will host this event in its downtown networking space at the AFWERX Austin Hub located in the Omni Hotel.
The SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for the global community of digital creatives to encounter cutting-edge ideas, discover new interests, and network with other professionals who share a similar appetite for forward-focused experiences.
"AFWERX is looking forward to connecting with DOD and industry partners to collaborate on our shared mission to innovate a stronger force," said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director. "AFWERX 3.0's mission to support senior leadership's top priorities could not occur without the invaluable partnerships we build in forums such as South by Southwest."
Dr. Timothy Grayson, special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, will hold a public forum and question-and-answer session March 10, 2023, on the Operational Imperatives, inviting technology leaders from industry to engage directly with Department of the Air Force, or DAF, priorities. This forum advances Kendall’s commitment to partnering with industry to solve technical challenges presented by operational imperatives, which identify critical warfighting capabilities needed to deter adversaries and prevail in combat.
AFWERX representatives will be available for networking and discussion at their booth in the evening of March 10, 2023, during the startup crawl. Members of the Prime, Spark and AFVentures teams will engage with potential industry partners and brainstorm ways to join forces in innovating solutions based on the operational imperatives.
Leigh will participate in various roundtables March 11-12 to discuss the launch of AFWERX 3.0, the innovation organization’s latest iteration, as well as AFWERX’s impact on the Department of Defense’s ability to create meaningful opportunities for small businesses to become trusted and active members of the National Security Innovation Base.
AFWERX 3.0, launched in a virtual event Dec. 14, 2022, adds five key lines of effort aimed at expanding technology, talent, transition and capabilities. This shift in focus will allow AFWERX to closely align its mission sets with the objects set forth in Secretary Kendall’s operational imperatives.
Representing AFWERX Prime on the official SXSW stage March 16, 2023, Prime Division Chief Lt. Col. Tom Meagher will sit on a panel entitled “How to Make U.S. a Leader in Advanced Air Mobility,” alongside AFWERX Head of Airspace Innovation and Prime Partnerships Darshan Divakaran and SpaceWERX Strategic Adviser Dyan Gibbens. Meagher, Divakaran and Gibbens will be joined on the panel, held at the Austin Convention Center, by Anna Dietrich of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Additionally, AFWERX Spark representatives will promote the new AFWERX hub in Washington, D.C., the Refinery program, and other innovation tools intended to facilitate collaboration between AFWERX and the Department of the Air Force Major Commands. The Refinery hosts cohorts of Airmen and Guardians in four-week hybrid programs to target grassroots efforts within the DAF and rapidly advance innovative projects that directly aid warfighters.
AFVentures representatives will discuss AFWERX and SpaceWERX contracts in the Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, and Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, programs, meet with small businesses, and promote AFVentures’ mission to invite more emerging technology startups connected with the government for unique funding and support opportunities. AFVentures seeks to catalyze partnerships between these startups and other stakeholders in the government, academic and commercial communities, ultimately aiming to build a more effective, multi-domain force for the U.S. and its allies.
As a whole, AFWERX representatives will discuss how the organization’s shifts in focus in AFWERX 3.0 will impact their specific division objectives.
The programming schedule and other event details are available (though subject to change) on the Capital Factory’s page here.
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit  
AFWERX is an Air Force Research Laboratory Directorate that connects innovators across government, industry and academia. Through innovation and collaboration with our nation’s top subject-matter experts, AFWERX harnesses the power of ingenuity of internal talent while expanding technology, talent and transition partnerships for rapid and affordable commercial and military capability. Additional information is available at
About Prime
The AFWERX Prime program expands technology transition paths to accelerate emerging dual-use technology markets by leveraging government resources for rapid and affordable fielding, attracting and optimizing external funding. Learn more at

About Spark
Spark empowers an active and capable innovation ecosystem that is equipped with the tools, best-practices, resources and connectivity to rapidly and effectively solve problems and transition capabilities to the warfighter. Spark accelerates results through three major lines of effort: growing and connecting the innovation network; developing innovation competencies in Airmen and Guardians; and supporting innovators as they pursue and implement their ideas. Additional information is available at
About AFVentures
AFVentures accelerates the scaling of emerging technologies by bringing together teams of small businesses, investors, and academia along with government technologists, operators, and acquirers. AFVentures incentivizes private investment in national security interests by matching emerging technology solutions with Department of Air Force (DAF) problems through rapid non-dilutive funding that can rapidly scale. Learn more at
About SpaceWERX
SpaceWERX aims to identify, acquire, and integrate innovative capabilities into the USSF while cultivating partnerships among our nation’s Space Guardians. Shortly after the launch of SpaceWERX, the U.S. Space Force’s newest innovation organization initiated the Orbital Prime Program. As congestion and debris threaten the long-term sustainability of the space domain, Orbital Prime will transition agile, affordable, and accelerated In-Space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM) space capabilities to build the foundation for space logistics while preserving the global commons. Learn more at