Winning an AFWERX SBIR Phase 1 Award (x20.1)

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Zach McNelis
 on April 6th, 2020

I was excited when I uncovered Coder had strong product-market fit within regulated industries, specifically the Federal Government where I’ve spent a large portion of my career. Working with the Federal Government has been a great pleasure and I have a strong passion for working with the individuals and organizations that run and protect our country. Yes, it’s a challenging environment to conduct business, especially with the complexities of procurement and compliance requirements. However, there’s a real feeling of a greater good that comes from partnering with stakeholders to win the small fights required to solve larger challenges; getting technology into the hands of government employees and military personnel to empower them to accomplish the mission.

I can’t express how excited I am to share that Coder has been awarded a U.S. Air Force AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) x20.1 Phase 1 contract. This award enables Coder to research and identify where our enterprise product can solve the environmental and computational bottlenecks related to software development and data science within the Department of Defense (DoD). The Air Force SBIR 20.1 is a Joint Partners program between the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the U.S. Army, Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA), providing awards to small businesses who are demonstrating technological innovation that meet a potential need across the DoD.

As the DoD shifts to DevSecOps, Coder allows the development environment to fit into the DevSecOps pipeline alongside the rest of the development workflow. All development actions and source code are centralized on an organization’s internal infrastructure. This allows engineers to use elastic compute resources to complete tasks, while also reducing the security overhead of the organization by keeping all intellectual property inside the centralized infrastructure.

Coder works seamlessly within the most restrictive air-gapped environments, providing productivity in a zero-trust environment for software engineers and data scientists.

These practices make it difficult and time-consuming for new engineers or data scientists to get their machine in the correct state to begin work on an application or data set. The installation and setup processes are often error-prone and difficult to do correctly in zero-trust environments.

We are excited to bring these capabilities to the DoD and are thankful to the folks at AFWERX, SBIR, and the amazing thought leaders around DevSecOps within the DoD for this opportunity.


AFWERX is a community of Air Force innovators who strive to connect Airmen to solutions across the force: whether that be funding, collaborating with industry, or simply receiving guidance on a project. The organization was established in 2017 by the Secretary of the Air Force, reporting to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and is comprised of active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, Air Force Civilian Service, and contractor personnel. The group serves as a catalyst for agile Air Force engagement across industry, academia and non-traditional contributors to create transformative opportunities and foster an Air Force culture of innovation. AFWERX’ goal is to solve problems and enhance the effectiveness of the Air Force by enabling thoughtful, deliberate, ground-up innovation across the Air Force. For more information, visit

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