Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Amy M. Cox, PhD


The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) emphasized capturing innovation through partnerships with non-traditional defense contractors. Furthermore, the NDS outlined the need to rapidly acquire new technologies to maintain a competitive advantage against our adversaries. The AFWERX program is the Air Forces attempt to accomplish these goals. AFWERX seeks to capture innovations occurring within the private sector of the United States by placing itself geographically within top innovation ecosystems. An approach that creates a setting where the Air Force is one of many investors, who benefit from the learning and investments across the entire network. The research within this paper examines the effectiveness of this approach by evaluating AFWERXs 1) effect on participation rates by companies within given regions; 2) ability to capture specific technologies from within the areas that they have located. Analysis in this paper focuses specifically on the AFWERX Austin and Washington D.C. locations. Participation rates were analyzed using a statistical comparison of population proportions by companies, within a given region, participating in the AFWERX program. Participation in AFWERX was compared to participation in the traditional Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. To test the acquisition of cluster specific technologies, all projects from within 150 miles of Austin and Washington D.C. were classified for fit into the respective technology clusters. Each cluster was formally defined by the top patent types that emerged from the respective area. Overall, the analysis showed that AFWERX was effective in both increasing regional participation and targeting cluster specific technologies; location matters.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number