HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Small businesses will sell ideas at the Air Force’s upcoming Pitch Day event March 6-7 in New York City that will solve communications, networking and software design problems faced by Airmen worldwide.
Teams from two Hanscom Program Executive Offices Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks, Digital as well as the Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Special Operations Forces PEO are evaluating the written proposals built to respond to a Feb. 6 request for proposals. On March 6, C3I&N, Digital and ISR/SOF experts will evaluate in-person pitches. Up to $9.5 million in Phase I contracts may be awarded in small chunks, and the event could eventually generate up to $40 million in contracts.
To ensure success, Hanscom program offices invested significant manpower in preparing for Pitch Day, in hopes it will spawn a series of “Pay-in-a-Day” awards where contractors will get immediate funding to alleviate specific challenges, while also inspiring non-traditional companies to partner with the Department of Defense to quickly deliver capability where needed.
“We’re stepping through the process with an eye toward learning the lessons that will clear a path for more start-up companies who fit well in our C3I&N portfolio,” said Raquel Durst, who works in the executive group for C3I&N. Durst organized C3I&N’s review contingent for the Phase I portion. “Pulling this off requires a lot of collaboration to build a repeatable process for conducting future Pitch Day events.”
According to the solicitation document, one objective “Is to explore Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, and Network (C3I&N) solutions that may not be covered by any other specific SBIR topic and thus to explore options for innovative solutions that may fall outside the Air Force’s current fields of focus but that may be useful to the Air Force.” Topics like these give companies the opportunity to pitch wholly new concepts, or apply already existing technology to military applications.
More than 20 individuals from C3I&N and Digital are reviewing documents and pitches submitted by dozens of companies. They will be choosing ideas that best fit the needs of their organization. Successful pitches will have a chance March 6-7 to hear feedback, and possibly receive on-the-spot government credit card funding. Pitch day provides exposure to Air Force leaders and users, industry partners, investors and community members.
“We’ve used the Small Business Innovation Research process for many years to identify new technologies that address warfighter needs,” said David Setser, PEO Digital’s technical director. “This is different and exciting because Pitch Day creates an environment where we can work directly with start-up companies to more rapidly connect their new and innovative ideas with our technology needs. The goal is to get industry and the Air Force working together closely to field solutions fast. If Pitch Day is successful we can use the process to spawn even more solutions down the road.”