1st international CRADA between AFRL, Indian startups ignites strategic collaboration for USSF in space technologies

In a historic achievement, scientists from the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, are leading the first non-domestic Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, between the U.S. Space Force and companies located outside the U.S.

This signing marked the U.S. Space Force’s first non-domestic CRADA with any industry partner. 

The two Indian startups, 114AI, an artificial intelligence firm that builds dual-use software for domain awareness, and 3rd ITECH, India’s sole image sensor company, will work in partnership with AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

Notably, the CRADA will foster collaborative efforts in cutting-edge space technologies, marking a significant milestone in advancing innovation in Earth observation sensors and space domain awareness.

The signing of the agreement gained the attention and sparked issue of a joint leader’s statement by President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the White House June 22, 2023. 

The statement emphasized the establishment and launch of the India-U.S. Defence Acceleration Ecosystem, or INDUS-X, a network-fostering joint defence technology innovation between the two country’s universities, startups, industry and think tanks as part of the U.S.-India initiative on critical and emerging technology, or iCET. 

INDUS-X includes various short-, mid- and long-term goals. Short-term goals involve joint challenges, academic partnerships, mentor-protégé programs, a senior adviser group, or SAG, and think tank roundtables.

Mid-term goals include an accelerator program for defense startups, collaboration with major defense firm supply chains and the establishment of innovation and testing labs for startups.

While, in the long term, the goals include an Indo-U.S. Joint Innovation Fund, easing regulations for cross-border development and trade and standardization of certifications for technology startups.

Noteworthy, the signing of the CRADA and the broader INDUS-X initiative align with AFRL’s partnerships and the Space Vehicles Directorate’s mission to develop the latest in space component technology and transition to provide space-based capabilities to the nation.

 Source: https://www.afrl.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/3561836/1st-international-crada-between-afrl-indian-startups-ignites-strategic-collabor/