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UK and US Launch International Space Pitch Day

Start-ups Pitch Military Leaders for $1 Million in Funding

Launched last month by UK Director Space, Air Vice-Marshal Harv Smyth, International Space Pitch Day is a joint British-American initiative to find, fund and fast-track innovation and technology that gives advantage to military personnel and operations in the space domain.

The competition is open to innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world, delivered through the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), assisted by the Starburst Accelerator and is jointly funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the US Air Force (USAF). It is specifically designed to bolster tech start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to harness the power of their ingenuity and innovation.

The competition will see organisations receive specialist mentoring and training in the hope of securing a place at the first International Space Pitch Day in front of senior British, US and NATO military leaders at the Defence Space Conference in London in November. Those organisations who make it through to the International Space Pitch Day will be in contention to secure a $66,000 (£53,000) contract from the judging panel to speed up their innovations and technology. The format will be the first of its kind in an international collaboration between allies.

A grand coalition of Dstl, DASA, the RAF, UK Strategic Command, the USAF, US Space Force and NATO has been assembled to find, fund and fast-track the best ideas from start-up innovators to the front line. Starburst Aerospace will act as an industry partner and carry out specialist training and mentoring on its behalf through an Allied Defence Accelerator.

This competition focuses on commercial innovation within the following technology areas that have potential for dual-use application:

• Artificial intelligence, machine learning;

• Computing: quantum, edge, onboard, cloud;

• Visualisation: virtual, augmented, mixed, extended reality;

• Sensor/data fusion;

• Predictive data analytics;

• Cybersecurity, cryptography, and other encryption techniques.

Innovations from the above technology areas are sought, to give solutions to six challenges set by the UK and US Space teams:

1. Visualisation of key events and information for combined space operations with allies and commercial partners;

2. Understanding current satellite systems relevant to the operations of a particular commander;

3. Understanding the present and potential impact of space weather on users across all domains;

4. Provision of training against realistic threats and opportunities, incorporating live data, and integrating space across multiple domains;

5. Enabling common and user-defined operational pictures to support multi-national space domain awareness and command and control;

6. A verification and comparison tool for Space domain awareness, which can take orbital observation data from a variety of sources and in a variety of formats and produce a single, reliable operational picture.

Compulsory registration for the event must be completed by 19 August and proposals submitted by 2 September.

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