The US Air Force (USAF) has handed out contracts to 51 companies at the inaugural Air Force Pitch Day event held in New York, US.

The total initial value of the contracts is around $8.75m. The Air Force Pitch Day was designed for commercial investment pitch competitions and saw contracts awarded in minutes.

The aim of the pitch day is to facilitate contracts and same-day awards with simplified processing.

It involves a new approach that seeks to end time-consuming contractual processes typically seen in the military.

As part of the approach, the USAF awarded Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts to companies through a process that involved a streamlined evaluation of documentation and in-person presentations.

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According to USAF vice-chief of staff general Stephen Wilson, streamlining the contract process will enable the airforce to deliver speed of capability to the battlefield.

Wilson said: “Events such as Pitch Day allow us to connect small businesses to the operator, then to a real problem and bring those two together to build a partnership.

“The fact that these small businesses don’t have to go get loans, or bridges, waiting for that 120 days to get on contract is a big deal.”

During the 30-day application period, the USAF received 417 submissions, which included 59 businesses that were selected to pitch their proposals in person.

Following the presentations, officials granted an initial award of up to $158,000 to 51 companies.

The pitch day enabled businesses to receive contracts and much-needed funding that enable them to quickly begin working on their ideas.

USAF acquisition, technology and logistics assistant secretary Dr Will Roper said: “The fact that these small businesses don’t have to go get loans, or bridges, waiting for that 120 days to get on contract is a big deal. It means they can focus immediately on working with us, understanding our users, delivering for the warfighter.”

With the successful completion of the inaugural pitch day event, the USAF needs to organise such activity at scale, noted Roper.

The airforce intends to use the potential of the collaboration with small businesses to enhance national security in air, space and cyberspace.