The US Air Force (USAF) has invited companies to submit ideas for drone technologies at a Pitch Day contest to be conducted at Northeastern University’s research drone-testing facility.

The competition will take place on 24 July at the Kostas Research Institute and is part of a series of USAF competitions to be held this year.

Through these contests, the service will look for solutions for national security challenges in areas such as space, hypersonics, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems.

Kostas Research Institute CEO Peter Boynton said: “Because the airforce is now doing so much work collaborating with our researchers at KRI, I think the opportunity to host this Pitch Day became evident. It just made sense to use this facility with our new and really unique research facilities here, and because this is a place where they’re already working.”

During the morning session of the programme, 13 companies will be provided with the opportunity to present their ideas before a panel of judges comprised of USAF personnel.

The service will announce the companies with the best ideas and immediately award funding to them to proceed with the first phase of the projects.

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Boynton added: “When a company wins their pitch, the airforce brings them into an adjacent conference room and they swipe a credit card and give them their funding right in that moment.”

Granting funding on the spot is intended to encourage rapid development and testing of prototypes for new technologies, he added.

The second part of the event will see the winning companies demonstrate their technologies at the facility’s anechoic chamber and Faraday cage.

The final segment involves a networking event with national security organisations, the aeronautics division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and other agencies.

In March, the USAF awarded contracts to 51 companies at its inaugural Pitch Day event in New York City.

The service has switched to commercial investment pitch competition-style model to avoid lengthy contractual processes.