For the first time, the United States Air Force Academy will partner with a local nonprofit in support of economic development and job creation in Colorado Springs.
The United States Air Force Academy and the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator (CSTI) today announced a historic partnership to assist in federally mandated technology transfer activities directly linked to the Academy’s $64 million research program.
For the Academy, the agreement marks the first partnership with a local nonprofit to advance technology transfer. The partnership agreement allows the Academy to support job growth and new businesses in the local community, the state of Colorado and the nation. Additionally, the new partnership will attract startups, existing industry and higher education institutions to license existing technology, as well as collaborate through testing services, research agreements and cadet project sponsorships.
“This agreement has been years in the making,” said Duncan Stewart, Chairman of the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator. “We are thrilled that it has come to fruition.”
For the Academy’s part, CSTI’s local connections made the choice obvious.
“The Colorado Springs Technology Incubator was the obvious choice for the agreement,” said Dr. Jim Solti, the Academy’s Chief Scientist. “They know the Front Range and they know the Academy. It just made sense to partner with them.”
The partnership was designed to foster economic development and produce future directed research. The long-term goal is to increase the number of products leaving the Academy to benefit and support both the warfighter and commercial companies. Moreover, the partnership directly aligns with a 2011 Presidential Memorandum seeking “to foster innovation by increasing the rate of technology transfer and the economic and societal impact from Federal research and development (R&D) investments.”
The Incubator has a long-standing, proven record, assisting entrepreneurs to fast-track innovations and secure funding.
“We are excited about our role in this landmark agreement,” said Dr. Ric Denton, CEO of the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator. “The Academy has great intellectual property and researchers, and the Incubator team has the expertise to help overcome barriers to commercialization. We look forward to facilitating the marketing of the Academy’s leading edge research activities to release their commercial potential wherever it makes sense to do so.”
For CSTI, the first step is to conduct a technology audit of available technology and resources created at the Academy. The second will be to find companies willing and able to license the technology.
In the meantime, the Academy plans to start a public campaign -- casting a wide net for potential companies to market the products identified by CSTI. The first event, scheduled early December, is a university-wide Innovation Expo, highlighting research in both sciences and humanities, opening the doors to the research centers to the public for the first time in Academy history.
“Our scientists have been conducting state-of-the-art research and developing capability for decades,” Solti said. “This isn’t new. We’ve been transferring the technology to benefit the Air Force and private industry, but the Incubator’s collaboration expands that effort considerably -- and codifies a deliberate intentionality.”
Formalizing the program will only benefit Colorado Springs economy and business environment, he said.
“We have products here that we believe are game-changes,” he said. “Some of the research we’re working on will need further study, but we are convinced there are opportunities to create jobs and spur economic development within the local community and beyond.
Researchers at the Academy already have several patented inventions ready for launch. Scientists in aeronautics have received national attention from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for development of an engine and wing combination designed to save millions in fuel costs for jet planes. Others created a system for preventing costly bird strikes on aircraft that cause the planes’ engines to fail and put lives at risk. Still others have patent-pending research in astronautics, software applications, communication, physics and mechanical engineering.
“Over the past 10 years the size, scope, complexity, volume and velocity of our research program has accelerated,” Solti said. “The goal remains the same: to support the Air Force and warfighter, while enriching the cadet experience through research. Now, as appropriate, we are seeking opportunities to move technology to the private sector. Everyone benefits.”
About the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator
About the United States Air Force Academy Technology Transfer Program
The United States Air Force Academy’s mission is to educate, train and inspire future officers of honorable character for the world’s most-respected Air Force. To that end, Academy research aims to teach cadets to think critically, act quickly and create innovatively to develop a better environment for the warfighter and the public at large. Success is obvious: The National Science Foundation has named the Academy the number one undergraduate research institution for expenditures for the past seven years.