Big wins for small business expected at Air Force Space Pitch Day
By Richard Lewis, Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published November 06, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO (AFNS) --
The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center kicked off the first Air Force Space Pitch Day event, Nov. 5, from which the center is expected to green light up to $50 million in contract awards.
During this two-day event, small businesses and startups pitch to a specific Air Force space mission set in hopes of scoring a contract with the Air Force.
Pitch days are designed as a fast-track program putting companies on one-page contracts and same-day awards with the swipe from a government credit card. This gives small businesses and startups access to the military market, millions in contract awards and is a major departure from the lengthy contracting processes.
“The Air Force is leveraging modern commercial business practices to enable the rapid development of small business ecosystems that have dual-use cutting edge technologies to enable the fielding of fast, relevant and affordable solutions that support our Air Force,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, SMC commander and Air Force program executive officer for space.
The Air Force has to find innovative ways to do business and speed things up, say military leaders, as adversaries are nipping at its heels. Thompson said he is eager to hear the pitches that underline the need for speed.
“We are getting better, but we are not getting better fast enough,” Thompson said. “We are in competition against thinking adversaries. They have the capability, will and motivation to do harm to the global commons of space. It’s adapt or overcome, and we can’t let that happen.”
During this pitch day, previous Small Business Innovative Research awardees are pitching their new technology solutions and concepts at the event that targets the Air Force’s most critical space challenges.
Space Pitch Day is unique due to the internal partnerships between the end user warfighter and small businesses vying for a chance to work with the Air Force, according to Thompson.
The Air Force benefits by being able to field faster, more relevant and affordable solutions.
“Mind-blowing ideas are being birthed in U.S. startup companies, but the Pentagon largely misses out,” said Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics. “We have to do business at the speed of relevance. The Air Force is doing everything possible to improve the way acquisition is done.”
Space Pitch Day features keynote speeches from military leaders, expert panels, along with an expo floor of up to 60 booths. The innovative startup pitchers have the potential to earn contract awards in critical areas: innovation in early missile detection and warning, space situational awareness, space communications, space visualization, multi-domain command and control, data mining, operations within electronically contested environments, artificial intelligence, responsive launch systems, space logistics and protection of critical space assets.
Space Pitch Day demonstrates the Air Force’s commitment to building a faster and smarter strategy in technology investments and small, nontraditional partnerships. The Air Force awarded $9 million in contracts on Day One.