USAF announces $40m investment for small businesses and startups

17 January 2019 (Last Updated January 17th, 2019 12:48)

The US Air Force (USAF) has announced an up to $40m investment programme to fund start-ups and small businesses at a pitch day event.

The US Air Force (USAF) has announced an up to $40m investment programme to fund start-ups and small businesses at a pitch day event.

The pitch day is scheduled to take place in March. It is part of a larger rapid contracting effort and involves awarding one-page, same-day contracts to companies.

It is said to be a departure from the usual contractual processes seen in the military.

According to the USAF, the investment programme will offer small businesses access to the military market, as well as non-dilutive capital, which allows a company to secure funding without the need for sharing its ownership.

Ideas are being sought for furthering national security in air, space and cyberspace. Submissions need to be made in three categories, namely digital technologies, battlefield air operations systems technologies, as well as command, control, communications, intelligence and network technologies.

“We have to do business at the speed of ideas so we can both inspire and accelerate start-up creativity towards national security challenges.”

USAF acquisition, technology and logistics assistant secretary Dr Will Roper said: “Mind-blowing ideas are being birthed in US start-up companies, but the Pentagon largely misses out on them.

“We have to do business at the speed of ideas so we can both inspire and accelerate start-up creativity towards national security challenges. The only way we’re going to do that is by making sure partnering with the airforce is easy and energising.”

Start-up companies looking to compete at the pitch day are required to submit their proposals by 6 February.

Selected firms will be invited to pitch their ideas to a team of airforce experts, commercial investors and defence partners at an event in New York City on 6 March.

The finalists will compete for a USAF contract award of up to $158,000.