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Our History

The Doolittle Institute (DI) was established in 2012 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit named in honor of James “Jimmy” Doolittle. As the commander of WWII’s historic Doolittle Raid, Doolittle is regarded as an aviation pioneer and innovator. Honoring the Doolittle name by supporting new technology and innovation, DI provides Technology Transition (T2) and STEM Outreach services through a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) between DEFENSEWERX and the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW).

Partnership Intermediary Agreements, otherwise known as “PIAs”, are agreements between the federal government and an intermediary organization, such as state and/or local governmental agencies and nonprofit entities. Their long-term partnership enables public-private partnerships that solely provide technology transfer and/or transition services. 

PIAs operate to increase the likelihood of success in the conduct of cooperative or joint activities with small business firms and educational institutions that need technology-related assistance from a federal laboratory. This encourages national economic growth through T2 and the commercialization of technology developed in the federal labs.  

There are two requirements for using PIAs: 

  1. The transfer/transition partner must be an industry or academic institution. 
  2. The effort must be a technology transfer and/or transition activity. In addition, the activity must align with the services provided under the scope of the PIA. 

Originally located in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, DI was chartered to “create an innovative environment and bring the best of government, industry, and academia together to work the hardest science and technology problems while championing STEM education.” DI was also chartered “to enable a thriving state-sponsored T2 ecosystem centered on the Northwest Florida region, from Mobile to Tallahassee, but with global reach and influence.”

In 2015, the Doolittle Institute expanded its customer base to include U.S. SOCOM with the establishment of SOFWERX. SOFWERX grew to become a national model for defense innovation and created significant interest in the Doolittle Institute as a DoD innovation partner.

To appeal to a broader audience and as a “Corporate” entity operating multiple facilities through PIAs, the Doolittle Institute announced in an August 2017 rebranding campaign that it would begin doing business as DEFENSEWERX. Shortly thereafter, the 501(c)3 entity was officially renamed to DEFENSEWERX. Around the same time, AFRL/RW chose to retain the name “Doolittle Institute” for the Northwest Florida DEFENSEWERX facility operated under the PIA between DEFENSEWERX and AFRL/RW.

In April 2018, both DEFENSEWERX and the Doolittle Institute relocated to a state-of-the-art-facility in Niceville, Florida.

Today

The Doolittle Institute is a DEFENSEWERX Innovation Hub and is additionally an AFRL Innovation Institute. Our family of innovators connects us to a nationwide network of federal technologies, facilities, and resources.