THE UNITED STATES SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND (USSOCOM), LOCATED ON MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE IN TAMPA, FLORIDA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES (SOF) OPERATING AROUND THE WORLD.
From its roots in the legendary Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II, USSOCOM champions a culture that embraces and supports innovation in research and development, operations, and bringing diverse communities together to rapidly invent and field new capabilities.
USSOCOM recognized that it was becoming difficult to reach entrepreneurs, small businesses, and creative talent outside the traditional defense industry market, as well as have a place where the SOF operator, acquirer, and inventor could collaborate and think about the challenges of the future. To address this issue, USSOCOM and The Doolittle Institute, a 501 3(c) nonprofit, entered into a Partnership Intermediary Agreement.
This partnership created a unique collaboration venue, SOFWERX, designed to bring academia, industry, individuals and other “non-traditional” partners together to innovate for USSOCOM’s most challenging problems. The goal was to create a place where they could harvest the “return on collision” by bringing a diverse set of experts together to rapidly solve problems, as well as reduce barriers to enable anyone with an idea to collaborate with USSOCOM.
Today, SOFWERX, located in Historic Ybor City in Tampa, FL attracts hackers/makers, university students and professors, inventors, small businesses, and more to support the Special Operation Forces. An interactive venue for innovative ideas, SOFWERX has become the premier incubator for innovative thinking in Tampa Bay.
They host several types of events including: rapid prototyping, collaboration & capability sessions, prize challenges (www.teamwerx.org), hackathons, and more to get the “best of breed” ideas and emerging technologies to USSOCOM.
SOFWERX also supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs with K-12 schools in the Tampa Bay area. Providing tours/briefs, project development support, professional development, technical expertise and more, SOFWERX can inspire the next generation of incredible innovators to solve USSOCOM’s toughest future problems.
SOFWERX facilitates collaboration with a variety of academic organizations, including maintaining a very close relationship with the University of South Florida (USF). College interns, industry fellows, graduate students, collegiate faculty, startups, and foreign partners also collaborate daily in this truly unique innovation environment. SOFWERX accepts intern applications from across the country to fulfill slots ranging from marketing, to cybersecurity, to electrical engineering, and more.
SOFWERX, and the collaboration it has inspired in the Tampa community, has become the recognized standard of how the military, academia, entrepreneurs, traditional defense suppliers, and everyday citizens can work together to create immense value in numerous ways – improving capabilities for our military and first responders, improving education of our high school and college students, and providing access to new markets for start-ups and small businesses.
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