Program includes research collaboration with the University at Buffalo

AUSTIN, Texas – April 9, 2024HiddenLayer, the leading security provider for artificial intelligence (AI) models and assets, today announced it has been selected by AFWERX for a STTR Phase II contract in the amount of $1.8MM focused on AI Detection & Response to address the most pressing challenges in the Department of the Air Force (DAF). The Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) process by accelerating the small business experience through faster proposal to award timelines, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small business and eliminating bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution. The DAF began offering the Open Topic SBIR/STTR program in 2018 which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded and as of February 9, 2024, HiddenLayer began its journey to create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.

“The opportunity to extend the use of our AISec Platform to secure the US Department of Defense’s most critical models, while also accelerating commercialization in the private sector, is a significant milestone for HiddenLayer,” said Chris “Tito” Sestito, Co-Founder and CEO of HiddenLayer. “We are honored to collaborate with AFWERX and researchers at the University at Buffalo to advance research on adversarial AI attack methods, further driving our mission to help enterprises protect their most valuable technology.”

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

About HiddenLayer

HiddenLayer is the leading provider of security for AI. Its security platform helps enterprises safeguard the machine learning models behind their most important products. HiddenLayer is the only company to offer turnkey security for AI that does not add unnecessary complexity to models and does not require access to raw data and algorithms. Founded by a team with deep roots in security and ML, HiddenLayer aims to protect enterprise’s AI from inference, bypass, extraction attacks, and model theft. The company is backed by a group of strategic investors, including M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund, Moore Strategic Ventures, Booz Allen Ventures, IBM Ventures, and Capital One Ventures.

About Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit


As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit:


David Sack
SutherlandGold for HiddenLayer
[email protected]