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We need your innovative solutions!

Air Force Research Labs (AFRL) in partnership with AFWERX are launching the Supply Chain and Provenance Challenge. The Challenge will be seeking solutions to solve a problem that exists today around provenance of microelectronics and Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) solutions that the USAF would like to utilize on Air Force Bases and in operational environments. 

We are looking for non-destructive methods, techniques, and tools to trace the parts of any COTS assembly (hardware and software) to prove provenance and suitability for use in military applications in a cost-effective manner. That includes the method of assembly, the source of boards, components, packaging, microchips, intellectual property blocks (or custom designs), process technology, the foundry of origin, raw materials.

Approaches and tools that use automation approaches such as machine vision and machine learning to reverse engineer or identify hardware objects and prove provenance are encouraged. Not limited to these—we are looking for ideas from the community!

What's in it for you?

  • An opportunity to participate in $2M+ of prototype and experimentation funding

  • An opportunity to participate in a $1B government initiative

  • Potential SBIR funding, please ensure your company has a DUNS number for consideration

  • Potential invitation to attend the Challenge Showcase event in Las Vegas to meet peers and USAF customers as well as other government agencies and the investment community

  • Official recognition for your company or idea

  • Peer and customer collaboration with industry and the government

  • You will be helping the USAF and improving the lives of the people that keep us safe

Who are we looking for with this challenge?

People, teams, enterprises, academics, and/or government entities that have expertise in supply chain provenance.  You could be in the US or other allied countries.

We are looking for ideas, prototypes, and commercial solutions.

What advances is the government looking for via this challenge?

We would like to be able to take a COTS assembly (e.g. drone, router etc) and in a non-destructive manner be able to ascertain where every electronic part came from, the traceability, bill of materials and be able to map back to vendors and sources.  At the end of the solution implementation, the assembly must demonstrate pre-assessment functional integrity (does nothing more and nothing less than it did before assessment).

Your solution would be to take an existing assembly and trace it back to be able to establish provenance post-manufacture.

We are seeking solutions to support the maintenance of security of the global microelectronics supply chain.  All information captured during the process should be captured in an immutable record with data products.

Who will benefit from these advanced microelectronics?

  • The government and the Department of Defense will greatly benefit from the increased knowledge of the provenance of COTS solutions to be able to gain more confidence in their use on-base and in operations

  • The industry will benefit from partnering with the Department of Defense and the added focus on assurance and security

How long is the challenge and what’s next?

The Solution Proposal Phase will be open from January 9 until April 30, 2019. You will submit your solution using our AFWERX Challenge. There will be an open (public) portion of your submission and then the ability to submit more confidential information as a file attachment (when using a desktop browser).

The evaluation process of your solution:

Solutions will be evaluated by a panel of experts from the USAF, DoD, and industry.

Teams whose solutions are selected will attend a showcase event in Las Vegas in May 2019

  • Here you will meet individuals, teams, and enterprises that were selected to attend the showcase event

  • During this event, we will be finalizing the teams that we will want to work with through the rapid prototyping and collaboration period

Selected teams will be given the chance to participate in some prototyping funding prior to operational testing with USAF which could lead to a government contract

Some government contracting terms and conditions

  • Announcement of AFWERX events that are considered to have high potential for further efforts that may be accomplished via FAR-based contracting instruments, Other Transaction Authority (OTA) for Prototype Projects 10 USC 2371b, Prizes for advanced technology achievements 10 USC 2374a, and/or Prize Competitions 15 USC 3719, may be made at the  and/or

  • All announcements made at the and/or website(s) are considered to satisfy the reasonable effort to obtain competition in accordance with 10 USC 2374a (b), 15 USC 3719 (e) and 10 USC 2371b (b)(2).

  • All FAR based actions will follow announcement procedures per FAR 5.201(b) accordingly.

Project Phase 1


  • Submit Proposals: 1/9/19 — 4/30/19

  • Deliverable: Submission in Spigit. Define the fields for the submission form.

  • Evaluation: How will the submissions be evaluated?

    • Criteria 1: Feasibility

    • Criteria 2: Team

    • Criteria 3: Maturity

    • Criteria 4: Level of granularity / complexity / detail your solution can handle


At the end of Phase 1 there will be a showcase event in the end of May to select the teams that will advance to the demonstration event.

Project Phase 2

Prototyping & Demonstration

  • Prototyping phase will be from June - October to refine your solution and funding will be made available to support this for selected teams

  • Demonstration of your solution will be at the International Test Conference November 12-14

  • Each team will be given a COTS assembly to perform the assessment on at the event, an evaluation will be made using the following criteria (which may be subject to change)

    • Criteria 1: Time

    • Criteria 2: Accuracy

    • Criteria 3: Resource requirement

At the end of the demonstration, the COTS assembly must perform with the same function and reliability as before

Project Phase 3

Review by USAF and negotiation

  • Potential contract to provide service to USAF