An Indian tech start-up is among 10 winners to bag same-day contracts worth up to 53,000 pounds to fast-track the development of their innovations after directly pitching to the UK, US and NATO military leaders their solutions to key challenges within the aerospace and defence industry.
114 AI Innovation LLP, a Delhi-registered firm set up two years ago, won the inaugural International Space Pitch Day with its “Spacewise” concept for data analysis in real-time.
The joint UK-US pitch initiative aims to find, fund and fast-track innovation and technology that would give advantage to military personnel and operations in the space domain.
“Exploitation toolset to visualise, access and analyse multiple input streams of Data for advanced Space Command and Control using Cognitive AI,” the 114 AI Innovation pitch brief for Spicewise reads.
“This toolset enables space operations with allies and commercial partners by allowing visualisation and analysis of multiple different sources of data in real-time,” it notes.
The International Space Pitch Day marks the first time the UK and US have come together to award defence contracts based around a pitch-style event, similar to television shows such as the BBC’s “Dragon’s Den”.
It is also the first time the two countries have awarded joint defence innovation contracts to an overseas-based enterprise and also the first time same-day contracts have been awarded to the industry in this way by the UK Ministry of Defence.
“It has captured the imagination of innovators and militaries not just across the UK and US, but all over the world,” said Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth, UK Director Space.
“It has achieved several world firsts and we look forward to building on its success as we seek to fast-track innovation and cutting-edge technology to the front line quicker than ever before with fresh ways of working with industry to make sure we stay ahead of our shared adversaries and the threats they pose,” he said.
The competition was open to innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world and delivered through the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), assisted by Starburst Accelerator. It is specifically designed to bolster tech start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and harness the power of their “ingenuity and innovation”.
Fifteen proposals from tech start-ups and innovators battled it out to win funding by pitching to UK, US and NATO military leaders after being selected to take part in International Space Pitch Day from scores of entries from across the world.
Dr Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the US Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, said: “Pitch Days open the government’s aperture to work with commercially-focused companies.
“Competing for technology outside of our fence lines has been a major US Air Force and Space Force theme. Partnering with our allies to compete globally is the natural evolution. Space is especially exciting with so many ideas brought to the table by these firms, and I’m confident international space cooperation has a bright future.”
The other winners of the competition included three UK companies – Clutch Space Systems Ltd, Riskaware Ltd & Telespazio Vega UK, and Spire Global UK; five US companies – Cognitive Space Inc, precursor SPC, Rocket Communications, Slingshot Aerospace Inc, and Swim.ai Inc; and one from Australia – Clearbox Systems Pty Ltd.
The scheme is jointly funded by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), Royal Air Force and US Air Force.
“International Space Pitch Day represents an innovative way of working, ensuring that the UK and US Defence are able to keep up with the rapid pace of commercial technology development,” said Gary Aitkenhead, DSTL chief executive.
“We aim to connect world-class space innovation to military end-users at pace, supported by business and commercialisation training,” he said.
As part of the scheme, a grand coalition of DSTL, DASA, Royal Air Force, UK Strategic Command, the US Air Force, US Space Force, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has been assembled to find, fund, and fast-track the best ideas from start-up innovators to the front line.
Starburst Aerospace is acting as an industry partner to the International Space Pitch Day and carry out specialist training and mentoring on its behalf through an Allied Defence Accelerator.