AFWERX announces record response, $38 million for “Flying Car” topic

AFWERX is recommending more than 250 proposals as part of its X20D Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, Open Topic solicitation, a record in the program’s nearly three-decade history.

“After successfully completing weeks of evaluations, selectees are undergoing final due diligence activities prior to proceeding to contract award,” said Maj. Jared Evans, AFVentures’ STTR Open Topic program manager. “While this is only the fourth STTR Open Topic, the X20D cohort is on track to be the largest single cohort in the STTR program’s history – representing a collective Phase 1 effort worth over $38 million.”

The STTR Open Topic aims to help small businesses commercialize emerging research in partnership with a qualifying non-profit organization, academic institution, or federally funded research and development center, or FFRDC. Different from the traditional STTR program, the Open Topic provides an opportunity for small businesses to highlight any technology or solution to the Air Force.

“This unprecedented interest demonstrates the value of the STTR program and the energy created when academia, industry, investors and government unite to accelerate commercialization of transformative technologies,” said Col. Nathan P. Diller, AFWERX director. “While we are pleased to use this as a tool to bolster the workforce of the future and propel research and development in the electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, market, we are even more excited to see what other ‘Prime programs’ might spring from these partnerships.”

The Open Topic does not limit proposals based on technology or application, but this cohort was an out-of-cycle solicitation highlighting a single focus area, the AFWERX Agility Prime initiative. Agility Prime is a non-traditional program seeking to operationalize “flying cars” for government missions in a way that accelerates the emerging commercial market.

The objective of this Open Topic Focus Area was to explore potential commercial technologies being developed in the emerging eVTOL market to field flying organic resupply bus, or ORBs, for disaster response, humanitarian aid and logistics missions. The sub-topic is intended to survey a large scope of technologies such as autonomy, advanced aircraft materials and manufacturing, rapid planning for dense air environments and logistics efficiencies, and electrical power storage, generation and charging.

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