WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force has signed a research agreement with venture capital firm Embedded Ventures to explore whether it can use venture capital practices to accelerate innovation with SpaceWERX, the service’s new effort to attract industry startups.
Embedded Ventures said it signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, with the Space Force. While CRADAs do not include funding, they allow the Department of Defense to more easily share technologies and information with a given company.
“We’ve been in communication for months, but with this CRADA now in place, we’re thrilled to formally work together to drive success at both organizations,” said Jenna Bryant, the co-founder, chief executive and general partner of Embedded Ventures, in an Oct. 13 statement.
Operating under the Air Force Research Laboratory, SpaceWERX is the recently launched space arm of AFWERX. Like AFWERX, the aim is to use Small Business Innovation Research awards and Small Business Technology Transfers to draw new entrepreneurial partners from industry, with a focus on startups.
“SpaceWERX is excited to formalize this agreement with Embedded Ventures, creating a highly collaborative and efficient workflow between our two groups, while keeping us all accountable,’’ said SpaceWERX Director Lt. Col. Walter McMillan in a statement.
Under the CRADA, the company will meet with the Space Force regularly to discuss how SpaceWERX can invest in the venture capital ecosystem to foster technology innovations that could benefit the military. Embedded Ventures is itself a venture capital company with an interest in dual-use space technologies.
The CRADA was issued through the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Technology Transfer Office in New Mexico, where the Space Force is trying to build deeper bonds with commercial space companies.
In July, AFRL announced the launch of a new innovation hub in Albuquerque with $11 million in federal funding. In partnership with nonprofit NewSpace New Mexico, the hub is intended to facilitate commercial growth around Kirtland Air Force Base, the home of AFRL’s Space Directorate and multiple Space Force facilities.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.