Air Force, DoD rallies industry, academia, service members to combat COVID-19

U.S. Air Force graphic

ARLINGTON, Va. – In collaboration with the COVID-19 National Response Team, AFVentures has created an industry portal to assess and respond to challenges presented by the pandemic.

This initiative was created as part of the Department of the Air Force’s Acquisition COVID-19 Taskforce, or ACT, as a one-stop shop for defense industry, commercial companies and academia to share creative ideas with federal agencies to combat the virus.

“We are ready to respond at scale for any task given us,” said Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “Five weeks ago, we finalized more than 500 contracts worth nearly a combined billion dollars to small businesses. In effect, we’ve been training for this for two years and are honored the Defense Department has asked AFVentures to facilitate its innovation response to COVID-19.”

The request to transition the portal to a national effort came though the DOD’s Joint Acquisition Task Force, or JATF, which is synchronizing responses to interagency requests for support.

“While the entry point for people to share their solutions with the JATF was created by our Air Force team, this is truly a joint initiative ready to support other federal government agencies,” said Capt. Jason Rathje, AFVentures partner and ACT’s “Rapid” lead. “As the response evolves, we are ensuring our process remains streamlined and easy to engage.”

Submissions will primarily be collected via a Request for Information, or RFI, form for non-government entities that will be grouped into one of the following seven categories:

1. Combating the Spread
2. Welfare of Citizens
3. Readiness
4. Logistics
5. Industrial Base Impacts
6. Medical
7. Other

In coordination with multiple government agencies, selected ideas and capabilities will be reviewed by technical teams and then pushed to operational planning teams that will prioritize and match them with appropriate needs.

Once that match has been established, submissions will be funneled to various contracting teams across the federal government.

From the Air Force perspective, contracting teams will align with the following four acquisition lines of effort:

● Relief: Assistance to other government agencies

  • Resilience: Industrial base health
  • Recovery: Minimize impact on Air Force programs
  • Rapid: Rapid contracting for small businesses

    “We’re proud to be pulling together across the DOD to drive industry outreach and engagement with a special focus on small businesses and startups,” said Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt, deputy assistant secretary for Contracting, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “Innovators are out there actively developing solutions, and it’s our job to ensure their capabilities are put into action, while also stabilizing markets during this time of national need.”

    The Department of the Air Force initiative comprises organizations like Air Force Acquisitions, AFWERX, the Air Force Strategic Studies Group and many others. AFVentures is the Air Force’s commercially-focused investment arm.

    The COVID-19 National Response Team industry portal is open indefinitely. To get involved, visit this website: https://www.afwerx.af.mil/coronavirus.html.

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