Frequently Asked Questions

What is the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

The AFRL Commercialization Academy is a Griffiss Institute entrepreneurial education program sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI). The Academy pairs high-caliber founders with high-potential AFRL technologies, with the goals of developing entrepreneurial leaders and launching new technology ventures.


What is IDEA NY Mohawk Valley?

IDEA NY Mohawk Valley is an in-residence, one-year, business accelerator program that starts after the successful completion of the Commercialization Academy. The IDEA NY program provides seed funding by way of prize money awarded at the Demo Day competition.  


How do I apply for the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

The application for the Commercialization Academy is always open. Click here to get started on the application, and identify which cohort you are interested in participating.


How do I apply for the IDEA NY?

There is no application for the IDEA NY program. The participation requirement for IDEA NY is that you must be accepted into and successfully complete the Commercialization Academy in order to participate in IDEA NY.


What does IDEA NY provide participants?

Prize money to the first and second place winners for the cost of workspace, capital expenses, consultant, and legal services. First place shall receive $200,000 and second place shall receive $100,000.


How much equity do I need to give?

No equity is needed to be given to participate in the Commercialization Academy or the IDEA NY program.


What kind of startups are eligible for IDEA NY?

The Commercialization Academy is interested in startups associated with cyber security, big data analytics, information systems, and unmanned aircraft systems technology focus areas. IDEA NY is also open to business areas associated with robotics, Data-to-Decisions platforms, and Internet of Things (IoT) that would apply technologies associated with the technology focus areas.


​Can I apply if I have an existing business?

The objective of the Commercialization Academy is the promote the establishment and growth of new startups. Therefore, eligibility for the Commercialization Academy requires you to be, (or become), a true startup, or a spin-off from a larger corporation. Our definition for a startup is an entity that usually leverages technology and is scalable and fundable, (can grow quickly).


If my company has won prize money as part of a previous Commercialization Academy, is it eligible to re-apply to the Commercialization Academy and compete for IDEA-NY prize money?

No. Prior Commercialization Academy prize winning companies are not eligible. However, prior company team members can apply if a new company is established, and a new license from the Air Force Research Laboratory is obtained.


Can I be an individual or do I have to have a team?

We would prefer to see a two-person team or larger. A technical and business founder is the preferred arrangement. The Commercialization Academy application process details what you need to apply.


Why do I need a technical founder?

Companies can be started by anyone. The Commercialization Academy is looking for startups that have a technical founder or the idea originator. This person is someone that has the technical background to develop the idea. People like this are usually engineers, programmers, coders, web developers/designers, or scientists. 


Are there required agreements?

Yes, the Commercialization Academy Agreement is required as part of the online application. The IDEA NY Participation Agreement is only required if a participant chooses to compete in the IDEA NY Competition as part of Demo Day.


​Who should be on my team?

Having a successful startup requires more than an idea. It requires people that can take the idea, develop it, create a business around that idea, and make it grow. Ask two questions about who should be on your team: Do I have a company without the individual? Can I get someone else to do what she/he can do? Entrepreneurial and creative thinkers, people with vision, passion, communication skills, and business insight, make good team members.


What’s my commitment to the program?

The Commercialization Academy is a 16-week program that requires you to be engaged electronically throughout the IP selection, Commercialization Plan creation process and license application with the Air Force Research Laboratory.   

IDEA NY is a 12-month program that requires that the company’s primary office, where the CEO and at least 50% of all staff conducts daily work functions, be located in the Mohawk Valley region (Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, or Schoharie counties).


Do I have to be a US citizen or US person to apply?

Yes, the AFRL patents are publically available, but any further detailed information may not be and has to be controlled as applicable with Department of Defense requirements.


Do I have to live in New York to apply? 

​​No. The Commercialization Academy is open to applicants from around the world. The IDEA NY program, however, does have a business residency requirement. See the IDEA NY Participation Agreement for more information on this.


​What is the process to qualify?

​For the Commercialization Academy, start with a great idea in one of the focus areas, meet the eligibility requirements, and submit a complete application.

For the IDEA NY program, you must be selected to participate in the Commercialization Academy. Teams will then compete at Demo Day for the prize money.


​Who selects participants?

The Commercialization Academy engages its administration team comprised of staff from the Griffiss Institute, Griffiss Institute Business Incubator and others who are experienced in key areas of cyber security, big data analytics, information systems, and unmanned aircraft systems, as well as business development, to review the applications and select participants.


​How many participants will be selected for the AFRL Commercialization Academy program?

Ten (10) teams will be selected to participate in the Commercialization Academy.


​Can my company be a sponsor?

Corporate sponsorship is always welcomed for our commercialization activities to help us fund this growing program. Here at the Griffiss Institute, we have the vision of creating a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance; becoming an Innovation Center to Foster New Business in the Mohawk Valley, and also to be a Leader for Education and Training in Information Technology! If you love our vision as much as we do, please contact: Regan Johnson to find out more about our available sponsorship opportunities!


​Who can I talk to about the program before applying?

If you have questions, we’re here to answer them. Email us at


Will I have to find housing?

If you are participating in the IDEA NY program, there is a residency requirement for your business. Program staff will help IDEA NY participants work through the residency requirements should you need assistance.


​What’s life like in the Mohawk Valley, New York?

Mohawk Valley makes up one-sixth of New York State and serves over one million residents. The six counties that comprise of the Mohawk Valley are an economic and educational hub of Central New York. Visit here for more information. 


We're always looking for the next, great, tech startups to join an upcoming AFRL Commercialization Academy cohort.


Apply now for the next AFRL Commercialization Academy cohort!