(AUSTIN, TEXAS – Aug. 4, 2022; source: Juice Consulting) — Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) to host the Army’s premier unit-level innovation showcase, the XVIII Airborne Corps’ “Dragon’s Lair 7,” this Aug. 16. “America’s Contingency Corps” will bring this Shark Tank-styled competition to Austin, Texas at the Capital Factory, a well-known startup accelerator located at the Omni Austin Hotel downtown. Pitches will be judged by VIP panelists including retired U.S. Navy Admiral and former University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, who served a distinguished career of service as a U.S. Navy SEAL and commander in Special Operations. The event will begin at 9 a.m. CT.
Dragon’s Lair was conceived as a platform for Soldiers of any rank across the Corps to pitch innovations to civilian technical experts and senior military leaders who may be able to help advance those ideas. It is now open to servicemembers from any branch of the military. This iteration of Dragon’s Lair will be held in conjunction with AAL, which discovers best practices and commercial innovations that support Army modernization. AAL is a subordinate activity of US Army Futures Command, which leads the modernization of Army platforms, equipment, and fighting formations. Media are invited to attend the event and see firsthand the ideas being pitched, as well as provided the opportunity to speak directly with the innovators.For more on AAL, see here.
“We have to build a culture of innovation in the Army if we’re going to achieve persistent modernization, and Dragon’s Lair is one of the best examples of that culture,” said AAL Director Colonel Jay Wisham. “AAL’s work providing high-tech solutions to capital platforms such as self-propelled artillery vehicles is “necessary, but not sufficient,” Wisham added.
At Dragon’s Lair, five contestants will make a 10-minute pitch to judges who include Army leaders, technology experts and commercial technology professionals. They will score each pitch on the four criteria: originality, feasibility, potential impact across the military, and the quality of the pitch. A 10-minute Q&A with the judges will follow the presentation. The winner will receive a prestigious Army decoration, and XVIII Airborne Corps will work with AAL and other experts to evaluate the potential to make the innovation a reality. The XVIII Airborne Corps includes storied units such as the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions, the latter made famous to younger generations by the HBO series, “Band of Brothers.” The XVIII Airborne Corps is the Army’s strategic response force, is skilled, tough and ready around the clock to deploy, fight, win and survive.
“Operational units have problems they need solved today if they’re going to be effective and safe, and Soldiers in those units are best positioned to identify the gaps,” said Wisham. “At the same time, no one sees more clearly than Soldiers that there’s often just a better way to do the things you do every day, and that’s really the central idea of innovation.”
We don’t make things — we make things possible. The Army Applications Laboratory (AAL) is Army Futures Command’s innovation unit and a partner for industry, the Army, and government organizations. We discover practices and processes to speed capability development and turn cutting-edge ideas into real, relevant solutions for Soldiers. Learn how we do it at
Army Futures Command is a United States Army command aimed at modernizing the Army. AFC leads the persistent modernization of the Army in order to provide future warfighters with the concepts, capabilities, and organizational designs needed to dominate a future battlefield. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, AFC has more than 26,000 people worldwide.
The Army’s six modernization priorities are the focus of our eight Cross- Functional Teams: Long Range Precision Fires; Next Generation Combat Vehicle; Future Vertical Lift; Army Network; Air and Missile Defense; Soldier Lethality; Assured Positioning Navigation Timing; and, Synthetic Training Environment. The Artificial Intelligence Task Force and the Army Applications Laboratory also support our efforts.
Collaborating with entrepreneurs, scientists, industry, and academia, AFC strives to create the best solutions to keep Soldiers safe and America strong. For more information, visit

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