Three California startup companies were among the winners of the inaugural International Space Pitch Day, an event that marked several world firsts.
Ten technology start-ups secured same-day contracts worth up to $66,000 to fast-track the development of their innovations after pitching directly to military leaders in the UK, US and NATO.
The California companies that won contracts are Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. of El Segundo, Calif., Swim.ai, Inc. of Campbell, Calif., and Rocket Communications of San Francisco. Cognitive Space, Inc. of Houston and precursor SPC of Seattle complete the five U.S. companies securing contracts.
Starburst Aerospace of El Segundo is acting as an industry partner to the International Space Pitch Day and carries out specialist training and mentoring on its behalf through an Allied Defence Accelerator. More details can be found at the International Space Pitch Day Virtual Learning Environment.
Following an afternoon of pitches, Harvey Smyth, Air Vice-Marshal, UK Director Space, unveiled the winners in front of a global audience during the first day of the Defence Space Conference hosted from London.
It’s the first time two nations anywhere in the world have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event, similar to the TV show “Shark Tank.” Also, it’s the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to an overseas-based enterprise in this way.
Additionally, it’s the first time same-day contracts have been awarded in this manner to industry by the UK Ministry of Defence.
“Congratulations to the winners and all those that took part in the first International Space Pitch Day – 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 Smyth.
“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.”
“Pitch Days open the government’s aperture to work with commercially-focused companies,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “Competing for technology outside of our fence lines has been a major U.S. 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 winning companies are:
- 114 AI Innovation Ltd (India)
- Clearbox Systems Pty Ltd (Australia)
- Clutch Space Systems Ltd (UK)
- Cognitive Space, Inc. (Houston, US)
- precursor SPC (Seattle, US)
- Riskaware Ltd and Telespazio Vega UK (UK)
- Rocket Communications (San Francisco, US)
- Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. (El Segundo, Calif., US)
- Spire Global UK (UK)
- Swim.ai, Inc. (Campbell, Calif., US)
Fifteen proposals from tech startups 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.
International Space Pitch Day is a joint UK-US initiative that aims to find, fund and fast-track innovation and technology that gives advantage to military personnel and operations in the space domain.
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.
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.
The format is the first of its kind in an international collaboration between two international allies.
Winning proposal summaries:
114 AI Innovation LLP (India)
Exploitation toolset to visualize, access and analyze multiple input streams of Data for advanced Space Command and Control using Cognitive AI. This toolset enables space operations with allies and commercial partners by allowing visualization and analysis of multiple different sources of data in real time.
Clearbox Systems Pty Ltd (Australia)
Title: AI-enabled decision support for satellite service selection
To enhance a distributed satellite spectrum monitoring tool to incorporate AI-enabled decision support for satellite service selection. Applying AI techniques to the data and decision space can assist in improving prioritization and selection of satellite services based on the Radio Frequency environment.
Clutch Space Systems Limited (United Kingdom)
Title: Space Resources Operational Availability Tool (SROAT)
The tool will be provided to operators to enable efficient and autonomous utilization and assessment of the space assets for planning, and during operations. A prototype will include weather forecast interfaces, and orbit propagation, provide the satellite and payload simulations, automated mission planning code to support advanced queries, and provide the visualization and AI modules.
Cognitive Space, Inc. (United States)
Title: Multi-Level Security through Partitioned Blockchain
Extending an AI-driven cloud satellite mission planning solution to include segregated access for multi-level security through the use of blockchain technology. This solution will provide a common operational picture of space assets across multiple security levels while providing means of filtering accessible data and actions based on security clearance and need to know basis.
precursor SPC (United States)
Title: 4D Space Weather Impact Tool
A Space Weather Impact Tool that delivers high-fidelity visualization of current, near-real time Space Weather conditions and forecasts of Space Weather conditions utilizing beacon satellites, multiple data sources, and ionospheric calibration systems to add the time dimension to Space Weather observations with an AI platform for forecasting. This novel approach improves ionospheric observation granularity by +10X while enabling Space Weather forecasting, and, delivering asset availability and management knowledge for mission readiness.
Riskaware Limited and Telespazio Vega UK (United Kingdom)
Title: SpaceAware Resilience
A comprehensive multi-tier modeling and visualization tool aimed at supporting battlefield and business operations with risk and threat analysis to mission critical space assets and the impact on the operational theatre.
Rocket Communications (United States)
Title: Space:ACME – 4D Visualization Solution for Space Awareness, Communication, and Manoeuvre Evaluation
SpaceACME will provide intuitive and visual system for operators to envision system status, orbits, and predicted events; easily create multiple manoeuvre options and view/compare them to help decision-makers quickly grasp implications and improve decisions. Standardized visual language/formats will enable communication of status/alternatives across operation centres.
Slingshot Aerospace, Inc. (United States)
Title: Slingshot Orbital Ensemble Catalogue
Slingshot Aerospace and its partner CGI Federal, propose to deliver an active data curation capability that uses machine learning to create an ensemble catalogue using all individual provider catalogues. This proposed solution will enable space warfighters to build and maintain data trust for space safety and sustainability.
Spire Global UK (United Kingdom)
Title: Space Weather as a Service
The ability to produce a space weather recognized environmental picture and to convert that into operational action requires an underpinning sensor/modeling capability and a well-defined machine-to-machine Application Programming Interface (API). This project will demonstrate a new ionospheric scintillation service targeted at Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), satcom and missile defense users.
Swim.ai, Inc. (United States)
Title: Real-Time Orbital Situational Awareness Platform (ROSA)
ROSA will analyze multiple real-time and relational-data sources, create live digital twin models of all satellites, and provide real-time situational awareness including location, attributes, trajectories, and impact of space weather. Alerts will notify operators and commanders of threats of intercept, weather risks, changes in pattern of life, overflights, and resources available for battle-planning. Both will see results in real-time on a common operating picture, tailored for mission.