USSOCOM Innovation Foundry (IF15) Event

Collaboration Event (CE)

16-19 April 2024

Host Name: Gabby Robles

Location: London, England

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Submissions Closed 04 March 11:59 PM ET

SOFWERX, in collaboration with USSOCOM’s Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T) Futures and UK Strategic Command, will host the fifteenth Innovation Foundry event (IF15) in London, England.  As the second international event in the series, IF15 aims to bring together military practitioners, industry, academia, national laboratories, and futurists to explore and ideate around future scenarios and missions. This phase of the innovation cycle is being co-sponsored by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The theme of IF15, ‘Smart Cities – Future Challenges for SOF’, will explore the challenges of physical and remote SOF operations in a range of future complex smart city scenarios. 

S&T Futures has developed and refined a unique process, the Innovation Cycle, to engage technology pioneers and leaders, and to discover and develop high risk, innovative, and disruptive technologies for future on-boarding. This Innovation Foundry is the first phase of the Innovation Cycle and will be focused on idea generation. Deliverables for the IF15 event will include preliminary capability concepts targeting the defined problem areas which may impact SOF and operations in the 2035 timeframe in interconnected smart cities. This event will be followed by 1) a Rapid Capability Assessment (RCA) to further develop the preliminary capability concepts, and 2) a series of Integrated Technology Sprints (ITS), to demonstrate proofs of concept.

Why You Should Participate
The event will be a compelling opportunity for leading minds and innovators in industry, academia, labs, and government, as well as subject matter experts (SMEs) to collaborate and ideate with other experts.

During IF15, selected participants will ideate, collaborate, and develop concepts for the future needs of SOF. USSOCOM also uses Innovation Foundries to build key relationships with entrepreneurs and technology developers.

Who should apply?

We are interested in applications from the following areas of expertise but if you feel you have specific innovative ideas to contribute, please provide a short background of why you think your experience can bring novel solutions in this space. Areas of expertise of interest include, but are not limited to:

•    Advanced energy systems
•    Artificial intelligence
•    Autonomous vehicles and transportation
•    Biometric systems
•    Communications technologies
•    Cyber operations
•    Data processing and analysis
•    Edge computing
•    Human-machine teaming
•    Influence operations
•    Internet of things
•    Machine learning
•    Manoeuvre in a city environment (including littoral)
•    Mission visualisation / simulation / rehearsal 
•    Partnered operations
•    Political science
•    Position, navigation and timing systems
•    Psychology
•    Robotic and autonomous systems
•    Sensor design and development
•    Situational awareness
•    Smart buildings and infrastructure
•    Smart cities
•    SOF operations
•    Subterranean environments
•    Surveillance and reconnaissance
•    Sustainment in a city environment
•    Wearable technologies

Problem Statement
The rapidly changing nature of the future operating environment will increasingly involve operations in smart, interconnected cities. More than 50% of humanity resides in cities, and by 2030 there will be more than 60 cities with populations between 5-10 million. Many are located within global resource hot spots in an increasingly multi-polar world order that challenges hegemonic legacies. These dense urbanities are becoming ever more complex; socially, physically, and technically.

This presents new challenges and opportunities for SOF operations across the full breadth of potential mission sets, in an interconnected environment where access and manoeuvre will be challenging. The confluence of domains and environments amplifies these challenges. Virtual and physical theatre entry, combat operations, sustainment, and partnering will all require novel approaches. From biometrics to autonomy, to remote sensing, future smart cities will present SOF with some of the toughest challenges.

To tackle these problems SOF will need to:
•    Develop a vision for the future challenges posed by operating in smart cities.
•    Identify, understand, and combat smart city risks and vulnerabilities.
•    Develop plans and policies to enable operational advantage in smart cities and exploit dual-use capabilities.
•    Develop capabilities to understand and characterize adversarial actions in smart cities.
•    Develop new concepts of operation with partners and allies to operate in a range of heavily constrained smart cities scenarios.
•    Identify, recruit, and train for the skillsets required to operate in future smart cities.

What you will do at IF15:
•    Create a vision for what might be the characteristics of the 2035 operational environment from a smart city perspective.
•    Discuss what might be the predominant technology challenges within the future operational environment.
•    Conceptualise how these technologies might be applied towards SOF smart cities challenges.

To describe what might be, participants will:
•    Not limit themselves to mere extensions of today’s environment, technologies, and processes.
•    Describe innovative concepts for the future operational environment in a science-fiction-like manner, developing new concepts that might exploit and defeat the infrastructure of the future.
•    Identify the investments SOF needs to make now in order to succeed in this challenging future operational environment.

Event Timeline
Completed Phase 1 – 05 February 2024 to 04 March 2024 Submissions Open: Futurists and visionaries from industry, academia, government and national labs who are experts in the areas of interest listed above and those who are specialized in SOF Operations are encouraged to participate in the IF15 Event by submitting a CV *(Curriculum Vitae) below NLT 04 March.

*Please note: each individual must submit their own CV for possible SME selection for the event

Completed Phase 2 – 04 March 2024 to 18 March 2024 SME Review: The S&T Directorate Future’s Team and representatives from the UK MOD will review SME submissions and notify SOFWERX of invited participants. SOFWERX will notify participants of their attendance status o/a 20 March. 

Phase 3 – 16 April 2024 to 19 April 2024 Innovation Foundry 15 Event: During the event, selected participants will collaborate and ideate with fellow SMEs, the S&T Directorate Future’s Team, and U.S. and International SOF Operators on the concept areas above. Selectees should plan for workdays from 0800-1700 UTC+1.

This event will be held in person at a location to be determined in London, England.

Phase 4 – Path Forward:
After completion of the Innovation Foundry Event, USSOCOM S&T and UK Strategic Command may negotiate awards which fall under any combination of the following: Successfully negotiated awards may fall under any combination of these categories:

NOTE: Awardees may need to be compliant with NIST SP 800-171, Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) in Non-Federal Systems and Organizations


For event-related questions, please contact Gabby Robles

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