Innovation Offices

There are a number of organizations inside DoD with a focus on engaging start-ups and others new to doing business with DoD. Most of these offices have been around for 5-8 years, and are still evolving. This section provides some general information and tips on engaging these “innovation offices,” along with a list and some additional information on each.

  • Some of these offices have no funding or ability to issue contracts, while others have a limited direct budget
  • Some have more influence than others in obtaining funding from other offices
  • Much of this is personality-dependent (based on the senior leader and key individuals within the office) vs organization-specific
  • As with any organization, the people within these offices have differing levels of understanding across DOD, and their advice and assistance will vary based on their knowledge and experience
  • Due to the nature of their role, staff within these offices generally have a relatively diverse range of connections to other DOD organizations
  • Due to the nature of their role, staff within these offices generally have a relatively diverse range of connections to other DOD organizations
  • Lower barriers to access relatively small amounts of funding
  • Tailored introductions to other organizations that may be interested in your technology
  • A means of getting access to potential long-term customers
    • Caveat: there are typically many additional steps in between, and it’s typically not a clear, straight path from Innovation Office to long-term customer
  • Generally serve as an entry point, and do not maintain long-term contracts with companies
  • Some offices, such as AFWERX, have multiple programs that build on one another, so companies can progress from one program to another within the office, but even this does not itself serve as a long-term customer
  • The goal of these offices is to help companies get their foot in the door, generate some momentum, and transition to more sustainable, long-term customers elsewhere in DOD.
  • Take advantage of the resources these offices offer to help you identify and engage long-term customers.

Parent Organization:
Army Futures Command

Translate, Accelerate, Facilitate

The 75th Innovation Command drives operational innovation, concepts, and capabilities to enhance the readiness and lethality of the Future Force by leveraging the unique skills, agility, and private sector connectivity of America’s Army Reserve.
Historically, the 75th Innovation Command has accomplished this through live and constructive training.
Today, the 75th Innovation Command offers the Army Reserve a new capability to provide a “screening force” to accelerate innovation within the Army and provide access to private sector innovators and technology leaders through Army Reserve Soldiers employed in those fields.

If you are interested in being a part of this unique and exciting command, send a one to two paragraph narrative summary of applicable background, with a recent resume or CV, to


The 75th Innovation Command is preparing to “Make Ready” for the future.

The 75IC traces its history to World War II, when the 75th Infantry Division participated in the Battle of Bulge and the liberation of Europe.The organized Reserve Corps was re-designated on July 9, 1952, as the Army Reserve.

Through numerous activations and reorganizations, the mission of the 75th remained. Soldiers from the 75th mobilized reserve component Soldiers for service in the opening stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soldiers from the 75th were subsequently mobilized to perform essential pre-mobilization training for reserve component Soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 75th was then reorganized as a mission command training command. The 75th became the headquarters of a coast-to-coast training operation ensuring commanders and staffs were properly trained prior to combat deployments.

Today, the 75IC stands ready to refocus efforts to look forward, into the future of America’s Army Reserve.

The 75th Innovation Command drives operational innovation, concepts, and capabilities to enhance the readiness and lethality of the Future Force by leveraging the unique skills, agility, and private sector connectivity of America’s Army Reserve.

Parent Organization:
Air Force Research Lab

AFWERX, a Technology Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the innovation arm of the Department Air Force, accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming innovative technology developers with Airman and Guardian talent. In AFWERX, AFVentures expands the Defense Industrial base for advanced technologies, Spark empowers Airmen and Guardian talent, and Prime drives transition to operational capability. Teaming across academia, industry, investment, interagency, and international partners is essential to expanding technology, talent, and transition of dual-use capabilities. Last year, Fast Company ranked AFWERX #16 of Best Workplaces for Innovators.

The AFWERX MISSION is to accelerate agile and affordable capability transitions by teaming innovative technology developers with Airman and Guardian talent.

Parent Organization:
Secretary of the Air Force

The Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (DAF RCO) has accelerated methods for developing, acquiring and fielding critical combat capabilities. The office preserves the strength of U.S. ingenuity and innovation without the rigidity of traditional acquisition. Located in Washington, D.C., the DAF RCO reports directly to a Board of Directors chaired by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. Board members also include the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, the Chief of Space Operations, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), and the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The office responds to Combat Air and Space Forces and combatant command requirements.


The DAF RCO delivers capabilities at the speed of emerging threats. Specifically, the office:
Expedites the development and fielding of select Department of Defense combat support and weapon systems
Leverages defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities
Provides integration and technical support to other Service or U.S. Government activities
Conducts independent operational and technical assessments of weapon or combat support system capabilities and vulnerabilities
Takes on new challenges to accelerate operationally-focused capabilities


The Board of Directors tasks the office directly to address immediate and near-term operational needs and delivers capabilities that require specialized expertise. The DAF RCO is staffed with a collaborative, multidisciplinary team. Inherent in the DAF RCO’s mission is intent to experiment, within the bounds of statute, to discover and recommend new methods, processes and techniques for the Air Force, the Space Force and the Department of Defense to acquire and field capabilities efficiently.


Key operating principles of the DAF RCO include a short and narrow chain of command, early and prominent war-fighter involvement, and funding stability.


The Secretary of the Air Force activated the office on April 28, 2003. One of its first projects was to deploy significant upgrades to the Integrated Air Defense System, now operational around the National Capital Region, to meet critical counter-terrorism objectives before the January 2005 Presidential Inauguration Day. Current DAF RCO work includes the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Space Force, and the B-21 Raider, a long-range strike bomber for the United States Air Force.

(Current as of November 2020)

Parent Organization:
Secretary of the Army


The Army Rapid Capabilities Office was created in August 2016 to expedite the delivery of critical combat materiel capabilities to the Warfighter to meet Combatant Commanders’ needs. In December 2018, its mission was expanded and its name changed to the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. The Office is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.


The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office will rapidly and efficiently research, develop, prototype, test, evaluate, procure, transition, and/or field critical enabling technologies and capabilities that address near-term, and mid-term threats. The Office will produce or acquire materiel solutions consistent with the Army’s modernization priorities that maximize Soldiers’ capabilities to deploy, fight, and win on future battlefields.


The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office reports to a Board of Directors (BoD) led by the Secretary of the Army, and including the Chief of Staff of the Army, Under Secretary of the Army, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Army Acquisition Executive, and the Commander of Army Futures Command. All decision-making authority related to the Office’s projects resides within the BoD and Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office construct.


Key operating principles for The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office include a short and narrow chain of command, overarching programmatic insight, early and prominent Warfighter involvement, and a collaborative integrated team of functional specialists. The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office leverages innovation by other government agencies and industry partners, as well as Warfighter feedback, to deliver solutions on an accelerated timeline. Ordinarily, enduring capabilities resulting from these efforts will be transitioned over to a Program Executive Office for continued production, modification, sustainment, and support. The Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office provides expertise not solely focused on materiel; it seeks to provide holistic solutions that inform the Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities and Policy (DOTMLPF) impacts of implementing new capabilities within the operational Army.

Parent Organization:
Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering

Accelerate DoD adoption of commercial technology

Transform military capacity and capabilities

Strengthen the national security innovation base

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) strengthens national security by accelerating the adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and bolstering our allied and national security innovation bases. DIU partners with organizations across the Department of Defense (DoD)to rapidly prototype and field dual-use capabilities that solve operational challenges at speed and scale. With offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, Chicago and inside the Pentagon, DIU is the Department’s gateway to leading technology companies across the country.

DIU is the only DoD organization focused exclusively on fielding and scaling commercial technology across the U.S. military at commercial speeds. Our expert team, working in six critical technology sectors, engages directly within the venture capital and commercial technology innovation ecosystem, many of which are working with the DoD for the first time. Our streamlined process delivers prototypes to our DoD partners, along with scalable revenue opportunities for our commercial vendors, within 12 to 24 months.

Upon completion, successful prototypes may transition to follow-on production-Other Transaction agreements or Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracts.

Parent Organization:
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition


NavalX serves the Navy and Marine Corps as an innovation and agility cell, supporting and connecting initiatives across the Department of Defense. We connect teams with tools, training, and resources—enabling people to think differently and deliver more effective solutions to the warfighter.

NavalX operates out of the National Capital Region and is led by Navy Captain Casey Plew, under the operational guidance of Mr. Tommy Ross, performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition.

Founded in 2019 by James Hondo Geurts (then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition), NavalX is staffed by government civilians, Marines, Sailors and partners across the Department of Defense. We have innovation nodes across the world and an online network of government, military, industry and academia partners.

Parent Organization:
Defense Innovation Unit


NSIN, the National Security Innovation Network, is an unrivaled problem-solving network in the U.S. Department of Defense that adapts to the emerging needs of those who serve in the defense of our national security. We are dedicated to the work of bringing together defense, academic and entrepreneurial innovators to solve national security problems in new ways.


Our network is driven by the values of service, collaboration, and speed: creating exponential innovation.

Together, the communities of defense, academia and venture will drive the innovations that help us realize the better, safer, stronger world we want to build.

Parent Organization:
U.S. Space Command

The Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO), a direct reporting unit of the U.S. Space Force, has a specialized, restricted and unique mission. Space RCO was created in response to the National Defense Strategy calling for improvements to defense acquisition. Space RCO was established via the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with subsequent authorities defined in the FY19 NDAA.


The Space RCO mission is to develop and deliver operationally dominant space capabilities at the speed of warfighting relevance.  We expedite delivery and deployment of space capabilities in response to the Commander, US Space Command requirements.


Space RCO is a small, streamlined organization with dedicated, organic acquisition support functions: contracting, financial management, HR, security, program management and technical engineering support that are critical in enabling the rapid response required for unique missions.


Space RCO requirements are driven by critical Combatant Commander and Enterprise space needs required to allow them to fulfill their joint, military operational needs for the national defense.


Space RCO employs four key operating principles for going faster in space acquisition:

Short and narrow chain of command
Early & consistent warfighter involvement
Small Integrated and empowered program teams
Embedded functional support:  HR, Contracting, Finance, IT, Security

Space RCO is headquartered at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM with additional staff located in Washington DC and Colorado Springs, CO.

(Current as of Jan. 2021)