Frequently Asked Questions

What is the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

The 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?

IDEA NY Mohawk Valley is an in-residence, one-year, business accelerator program that starts after the successful completion of the AFRL 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?

Applications for the AFRL Commercialization Academy close on Monday, November 12, 2018, 11:59 pm. Click here to get started on the application.


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 AFRL Commercialization Academy in order to participate in IDEA NY.


What does IDEA NY provide participants?

​First and second place winners may spend prize money 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 AFRL Commercialization Academy or the IDEA NY program.


What kind of startups are eligible for IDEA NY?

The program focus is on cyber security, big data analytics, information systems, and unmanned aircraft systems. IDEA NY is also open to robotics, Data-to-Decisions platforms, and IoT, in some cases, that would apply technologies associated with the focus areas. 


​Can I apply if I have an existing business?

Eligibility for the AFRL 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).


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 AFRL Commercialization Academy application process details what you need to apply.


Why do I need a technical founder?

Companies can be started by anyone. The AFRL 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 AFRL Commercialization Academy is a 4-month program that requires you to be engaged electronically throughout the IP selection and Business Plan creation process.   

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 to apply?

No, we welcome international applications for the AFRL Commercialization Academy.  However, speaking English is a requirement. Meeting the requirements of US immigration policy will be the responsibility of the participants.


Do I have to live in New York to apply? 

​​No. The AFRL 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 AFRL Commercialization Academy, start with a great idea in one of the focus areas, meet the eligibility requirements, and submit a complete application by November 12, 2018.

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


​Who selects participants?

​The AFRL Commercialization Academy engages its administration team comprised of staff from Wasabi Ventures, Griffiss Institute, Griffiss Institute Business Incubator and Mohawk Valley EDGE along with an evaluation panel comprised of industry professionals, each 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 AFRL 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: Tricia Frattasio 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 Call Mohawk Valley Home for more information.