Dayton designated an Air Force innovation ‘digital hub’

City designated as home to ‘Dayton DigitalWERX’

Dayton is now an Air Force Innovation digital hub, a designation that Air Force and Dayton advocates say should open doors to greater cooperation between private-sector innovators and Air Force decision-makers.

The designation was announced Friday afternoon at the virtual AFWERX Accelerate event.

“I’m excited to tell you we’re opening a new innovation hub; it’s called the ‘Dayton DigitalWERX,’” said Will Roper, the Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

“It’s right in the Tech Town, in Dayton, Ohio,” he added, referring to the downtown business campus. “If you didn’t know, Dayton, Ohio is the Mecca of Air Force acquisitions. So many of our program executive offices sit at the (Wright-Patterson) Air Force Base, along with our Air Force Research Laboratory, that works for both the Air Force and Space Force.”

Dayton DigitalWERX is expected to bring innovators together for both the Air Force and the Space Force.

JP Nauseef, president and chief executive of JobsOhio, welcomed the announcement.

“We’re very proud to list Dayton among the AFWERX hubs,” Nauseef said.

Created in 2017, AFWERX is an Air Force program focused on encouraging innovation, working with both private and public partners.

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Other AFWERX locations or hubs have been located at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, with the idea of allowing students, entrepreneurs and others easy access to each other as well as Air Force leaders.

Another hub was opened in Austin, Texas, in 2018, and in Washington, D.C.

These kinds of off-military-base hubs are proliferating, and in a variety of areas. Earlier this week, the Air Force announced the creation of SpaceWERX, with a space-focused hub to be located at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

The idea is to tap into great ideas wherever they are found.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Roper said. “It’s that important.”

This week, AFWERX Accelerate celebrated the 17 companies working to get newly developed flying cars ready for military flight hours. Two of those companies, Joby Aviation and BETA Technologies, plan to build a flying car simulator and recharging station at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

“We’re excited to partner with Dayton and DigitalWERX to find that new gear,” Roper said.

“The establishment of Digital DaytonWERX hub confirms what we in the Dayton region have known for decades: our community understands and supports the constantly evolving needs of the Air Force,” said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “The dedicated men and women at Wright-Patt work every day to defend our nation and the amazing work they do bolsters our national security.”

The establishment of an AFWERX hub in Dayton is a huge win for our community. I have been a longtime advocate with the Air Force for synergies in the Dayton Region,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner.

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