US Air Force awards funding at Space Pitch Day event

7 November 2019 (Last Updated November 7th, 2019 10:34)

The US Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has held a Pitch Day in San Francisco, California, US, to enable the quick acquisition of technologies for military use.

US Air Force awards funding at Space Pitch Day event
US Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett speaks at the commencement of Air Force Space Pitch Day in San Francisco. Credit: USAF / Van De Ha.

The US Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has held a Pitch Day in San Francisco, California, US, to enable the quick acquisition of technologies for military use.

Around 60 small companies that hold Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I awards competed for the $50m in contract funding made available by the US Air Force (USAF).

The two-day Air Force Space Pitch Day event provided the opportunity for firms to win a spot contract award to address military space challenges.

Pitch days allow the USAF to move away from the traditional contracting processes to make use of innovations offered by small businesses.

SMC commander and USAF Space programme executive officer lieutenant general John Thompson said: “The airforce 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 airforce.”

The pitch day event saw companies presenting their ideas in space situational awareness, space communications, early missile detection and warning, multi-domain command and control, and data-mining operations within electronically contested environments.

The topics also included responsive launch systems, artificial intelligence, space logistics and protection of critical space assets.

USAF acquisition, technology and logistics assistant secretary Dr William Roper said: “Everything we do is about the warfighter’s mission.

“Space Pitch Day demonstrates the airforce’s willingness and ability to work with non-traditional startups and a great example of us going faster and smarter. It’s not just a tagline; it’s a dead-serious business about keeping the airforce competitive and dominant.”

The event also allows SBIR Phase I contract awardees to pitch their proposals for Phase II funding.