Major Jason Rathje is a cofounder of AFVentures and currently serves as its Director. In this function he is responsible for the Air Force’s commercial investment portfolio, including the management of the dual-use portion of the AF’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) budget. He is also responsible for aligning commercial investment with DAF objectives, utilizing market and economic forces to increase the transition rate of commercially funded innovation to the warfighter. During COVID-19, he serves as the Director of the “Rapid” Line of Effort (LOE 4) for the Department of the Air Force’s Acquisition Task Force (DAF ACT), responsible for managing a 182-person team to deliver non-traditional and small business solutions to combat COVID-19.
Maj Rathje received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps after graduating with his Bachelor and Master of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has served as a Lead Engineer for Aeronautical Systems at both the Armament Directorate and Air Force Research Lab at Eglin AFB, Fla. He has deployed with USSOCOM in support of Operation Enduring Freedom supporting ISR operations. He then served as a flight test engineer for the AC-130W and the AC-130J at USSOCOM Detachment 1, Eglin AFB, Fla. More recently, Maj Rathje served as a Program Manager at Hanscom Air Force Base (AFB), Mass, where he was responsible for Joint Service and Agency programs, including the next generation tactical cloud, custom cyber security solutions, and advanced autonomous systems.
Prior to his current assignment, Maj Rathje completed his PhD in Strategy and Policy and Stanford University. His research interests lie at the intersection of corporate strategy, innovation, and defense. Specifically, his focus is on the effect of government funding on private firm performance, seeking to answer the question, “Should technology companies work with the government?” His current line of research investigates the impact of defense R&D spending on entrepreneurship in dual-use technology industries.
Most recently, Maj Rathje was an initial cadre member in the Acquisition Instructor’s Course (AQIC), the acquisition community’s equivalent of USAF Weapons School. During this time, Maj Rathje was responsible for the development and implementation of the first Acquisition Instructor’s course, with the mission of bridging the operational-acquisition gap by bringing tactical acquisition instructorship to the DAF’s acquisition and operational communities.