The Air Force will hold a pitch day focused on cybersecurity next year, according to an official.
Joe Bradley, the director of Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS), told Fifth Domain in a December interview that — in conjunction with the Air Force’s cyber entities in San Antonio — they plan to hold a pitch day in March or April where companies can come in and potentially win contracts in minutes.
The Air Force awarded contracts to 51 proposals in its first ever pitch day.
Specifically, the proposals will focus on protecting data at rest and data in motion, Bradley said.
“The challenge you have is how do I protect cyber or how do I protect my system without increasing my overhead requirements on my system and increasing latency,” he explained.
The Air Force has held a series of such pitch days, which offer a Shark Tank-like environment where officials from program executive offices hear small companies pitches based on certain Air Force problems. If they like what they hear, they issue contracts on the spot.
The Air Force will host Shark Tank-style events to award funding quickly and bypass the traditional award process in sectors including space, hypersonics and ISR.
The pitch days allow the Air Force the opportunity to engage with nontraditional defense companies that have good ideas but might not know the proper avenues to work through, Bradley said.
“Not that our defense base doesn’t come up with great solutions; they’re just not the only game in town. We need to hear other voices, we need that diversity of thought to come into play into our solutions. We’ve got to be willing to accept it,” he added.
In 2019. The Air Force held several pitch days focused on a variety of topics to include unmanned systems, space, hypersonics and special operations forces.