Will Roper, Air Force assistant secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
The Air Force has given eight companies, including Areté, a chance to ask for up to $3 million to boost technology available to today’s battlefield forces. The opportunity followed two-day pitch sessions. The opportunity could lead to up to $50 million in Air Force funding.
Space Pitch Day was intended to draw out innovators that can provide valuable intelligence faster and better than ever before. “If unicorns in defense are only started by billionaires, we’re going to lose,” said Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “We need companies that have ambitions, without that billionaire backing, to find a way to start up through us.”
The Air Force has also forged relationships with private investors who often match Air Force funds. Space Pitch Day is a relatively new way that the Air Force is trying out to position itself as a core tech investor.
Also new is the business of buying and selling ideas. “It’s not enough to develop and procure systems anymore,” said Roper. ““We’ve got to get in the business of buying idea and generating ideas.”
This means investing in design, a fundamental shift in the DoD’s acquisition model.