WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center will host a Space Force Pitch Day in spring 2021. While the current plan is to host the event in person in Los Angeles, California, SMC noted that it may move to a virtual environment due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Air Force first introduced its pitch days in March 2019, and has since held several to find “defense unicorns” — nontraditional companies with innovative solutions that lack the resources and know-how to secure Department of Defense contracts. Inspired by the popular television series “Shark Tank,” select companies are given the unique opportunity to present their solutions to acquisition leaders, who are then able to award Small Business Innovation Research grants.

“Space Force is committed to procuring things differently. We continue to recognize the need for faster and smarter methods to quickly identify, procure and develop military space solutions. Space Pitch Day is one way SMC is bridging the gap between small businesses and the military,” said Maj. Ryan Pennington, project lead of SMC’s deputy space ventures.

A major draw of the events is the responsiveness, giving smaller companies the chance to forgo the traditional, lengthy DoD contracting process. The Air Force boasts that on its first pitch day, the service awarded a contract within three minutes of seeing the presentation. During the first Space Force Pitch Day in November 2019, the Air Force issued $9 million to 12 companies.

“The inaugural Air Force Space Pitch Day last year was very successful. Although SMC is hosting its second pitch day event, it really is the first under the USSF. We are excited to host another event that enables us to grow and leverage small-business innovation into thriving ecosystems,” said Roberta Ewart, SMC’s chief scientist. “The next SMC Space Force Pitch Day event will have the same focus and that is to open doors for innovative technologies and ideas and then create transition on-ramps into the USSF enterprise and architecture. We are fielding tomorrow’s Space Force faster and smarter and we do this by changing the way we buy things.”

SMC has laid out 11 focus areas for the upcoming Space Force Pitch Day:

  • Innovation in early missile detection and warning
  • Space situational awareness
  • Space communications
  • Space visualization
  • Multidomain command and control
  • Data mining
  • Operations within electronically contested environments
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Responsive launch systems
  • Space logistics
  • Protection of critical space assets

Interested companies can register and submit their proposals at www.spaceforcepitchday.com.

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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