WBI, AFRL and TechLink Host Innovation Discovery Event to Invigorate Market Demand for Air Force Technology

26.11.19 06:24 PM By Jennie Hempstead

WBI, TechLink and AFRL Innovation Discovery Events help increase the quantity and quality of their patents. (U.S. Air Force photo/Gina Marie Giardina)
AFRL scientists and engineers (S&Es) are tasked with developing technology and disclosing innovations in their particular areas of expertise and research. As they develop such technologies, the S&Es are sometimes working with a limited field-of-view regarding potential innovative additions to their technology or uses in the marketplace beyond the scope of the warfighter. The IDE brings together a panel of 5 industry experts that were carefully selected by WBI in collaboration with the AFRL research directorates. The panelists strategically come from diverse technology, business, and academic backgrounds. An event facilitator and scribe were provided by Techlink. During the IDE, three different AFRL researchers present their technology in front of the panelists while the facilitator guides and directs the flow of conversation and exchange of ideas. An audience observes the proceedings and is also used for input. The objective is to identify and memorialize possible technical additions and commercial uses for the technology within the timeframe allocated for each presentation.


Accordingly, the IDE serves as a very interesting and cost-efficient way to identify and capture many different ideas related to the technologies presented. The IDE brings people together from many different facets of AFRL’s technical and business communities. The harvested ideas can be filed as new patent disclosures or added to existing patent disclosures to further extend the scope, breadth, and coverage of the technology. All AFRL research efforts can benefit from this approach because the IDE adds creative technical and commercialization value to existing and future research topics.


IDEs are of particular interest to Senior Scientists and Senior Level management of AFRL directorates that host such events. In this instance the sensors directorate (RY) selected 3 S&Es to present technology for further enhancement by the IDE panel. Note an IDEs can use S&Es from any of the directorates, and multi-directorate events would further promote teamwork between the groups. Since the IDE serves to identify new and additional ideas related to the technology being presented, these ideas can be used by AFRL patent managers and AFMC LO/JAZ attorneys to further improve the number of inventions filed for each IDE technology. The filed inventions can include IDE-harvested embodiments and variations, hence improving the breadth and scope of the resulting patents. Such broader patents can be more readily commercialized and licensed by the WBI Technology Commercialization Services Group. Licensing and commercialization serve to more quickly develop the resulting product for use by the warfighter, and brings in revenue for the AF and the inventor, thus further incentivizing more innovation.


The IDE results in the identification of dozens of new ideas and uses for the technologies that are presented during the IDE. These new ideas were gleaned from the collective mindset of the diverse panel created by WBI. The ideas will be incorporated into new and existing patent disclosures to further enhance the coverage of the resulting patents. Broader patents result in more commercialization opportunities, which brings the technology into the hands of the warfighter even faster.


WBI served as the host and event planner of the IDE, in collaboration with AFRL/RY and TechLink. WBI selected and recruited the 5-member panel and facilitated their travel and participation. WBI arranged and provided the facilities for the event, along with refreshments and meals. WBI will also analyze the ideas and uses of the technology that were memorialized during the event, and work with the AFRL Patent Manager (Jack Owsley) and LO/JAZ attorneys to identify and file as many patent disclosures as possible that are associated with each IDE technology. Hence the IDE will directly result in more patent disclosures and issued patents that can be used for commercialization and licensing efforts. The technologies discussed at the IDE will also be featured at Showcase event on November 7th, which is used for more directed market efforts.