Hanscom leaders take part in MassChallenge’s fifth Air Force Labs showcase

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Parks
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

BOSTON – The Hanscom Air Force Base partnership with MassChallenge continues with Team Hanscom’s leadership leaving the fifth iteration of the Air Force Labs showcase on June 26 impressed with the innovation they saw.

MassChallenge is a non-profit organization that “connects startups, experts, corporations and communities” using an equity-free model. Air Force Labs is a startup program focused on high-impact technologies deployed to the warfighter.

The event, held at the MassChallenge headquarters in Boston, featured pitches from 13 of the 15 startups selected to participate. Before the startups delivered their three-minute pitches, Will Magruder, vice president of partnerships at MassChallenge, remarked on the rationale behind the organization’s model.

“We foster (economic) ecosystems so we can accelerate startups,” said Magruder. “This leads to transformed economies. We do this at zero cost and zero equity so innovators can go without worrying about what tradeoffs to take except for time. Today we have a robust network of innovators supporting these startups.”

The Hanscom AFB and MassChallenge partnership seeks to identify challenges faced by Hanscom AFB and help accelerate high-impact small businesses with technologies to solve those challenges.

Each participating PEO has established a series of innovation priorities. Among the pitches at the showcase included those for developments in artificial intelligence, drones, data collection and sharing, cybersecurity and communications.

Maj. Gen. Anthony W. Genatempo, PEO, Cyber and Networks Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, was among those representing Hanscom.

“I was introduced to MassChallenge two years ago,” he said. “And I still feel like I’m learning something new every day about the information domain.”

Col. William Collins, acting PEO, Electronic Systems, AFLCMC, was also impressed.

“It’s inspiring to watch as we partner through MassChallenge so we can deliver capability to the warfighter,” he said. “I hope as part of this engagement we can accelerate capabilities and take advantage of this great partnership.”

Col. Taona Enriquez, 66th Air Base Group and installation commander, also attended the event, one of her last engagements prior to her retirement from active duty. She spoke to innovators in the room from the perspective of her own contracting background.  

“You have these tools in your toolbox you’ve been introduced to. This is a unique environment,” she said. “This is an environment that doesn’t just happen…we are not going to solve these problems alone.”

Air Force Labs is designed to increase non-traditional participation in Small Business Innovative Research Program opportunities. More than 65% of Air Force Labs startups have been awarded Phase II contracts to date, and past support of Hanscom’s leadership team has contributed to this success.

“There is no way we could have started this years ago and got where we are today without your support,” MassChallenge CEO Cait Brumme said as she closed out the showcase.

Air Force personnel participating in Banshee Innovation Training gave myriad challenge statement presentations to Hanscom leadership during a culmination event April 5. Banshees then participated in judging to downselect the companies for the Air Force Labs program with the greatest potential to support progress on challenge statements.

This judging narrowed the field to the 15 selected for the June 26 event.

The Hanscom and MassChallenge partnership is sponsored by the Cyber & Networks Directorate and Digital Electronic Directorate, as well as the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems.

For more information visit masschallenge.org/programs-airforce/.