U.S. Space Force plans first pitch day for innovative tech

Maj. Gen. William Cooley addresses SBIR Pitch Day Nov. 28, 2019. (Air Force Research Lab)


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The newly organized U.S. Space Force is already putting plans in motion to host its first pitch day.

The newest military branch will hold a pitch day at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida on March 4 in search of innovative solutions for installation and space operations support. This includes “weather, business systems and information technology that facilitate spacelift mission success” and other “quality control, human resources, communications, civil engineering, transportation, environmental” technologies for use in developing bases, according to a new solicitation.

“The Space Force wishes to stay at the cutting edge of these various functions and technologies and is looking to partner with innovative small businesses that may have solutions to Space Force challenges,” says the solicitation.

The documents include greater depth on the specific types of technologies Space Force is looking for, such as “Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML) that could provide a high-resolution modeling process for decision making” and the “ability to integrate raw data from multiple other data centers (local weather radars like Melbourne, Orlando, etc) into 45th Weather Squadron display to support forecasting and minimize radar ‘blind spots.'”

The Space Force’s service as the defender of the nation’s interests in space was made official Dec. 20 when President Trump signed the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act into law. The branch sits under the Department of the Air Force and absorbed the Air Force Space Command.

To acquire “innovative commercial items, technologies and services,” the branch plans to use what’s known as a commercial solutions opening (CSO) — a solicitation outside the Federal Acquisition Regulation that allows for the acquisition of technologies and services in the production phase or adapted from existing products from “traditional and non-traditional government contractors.” It allows defense agencies to forgo a lengthy, open competition for an acquisition in lieu of a streamlined, shortened prototype contract.

Based on available funding, Space Force is looking to pay less than $100,000 per solution on the spot at the event with a government purchase card. The branch says it has up to $500,000 to spend for the CSO.

With a pitch day, Space Force is taking a page out of the Air Force’s playbook in recent years, as the service has hosted a number of such opportunities in the past year to reach nontraditional innovators and startups. The Air Force held its first pitch day last March. The service also held a Space Pitch Day in November in San Francisco.

Interested parties are asked to submit a white paper and pitch deck by Feb. 5. Selected offers will receive an invitation to pitch at the event in March.

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Air Force, Air Force Pitch Day, Commercial Solutions Opening, Space Force