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Innovation Council ‘pitch day’ awards $236,000 contract

U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic

(U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

The Grand Forks Air Force Base Innovation Council, 319th Contracting Flight, and the University of North Dakota partnered in an effort to host a virtual pitch day on June 17, 2020, at the UND Center for Innovation.

“The purpose of Pitch Day is to create a faster, non-traditional contracting approach targeted at procuring innovative solutions,” said Carly Larson, 319 CONF contracting officer. “Similar to the show Shark Tank, contractors have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a government evaluation team. If the team likes the idea, an award is made on the spot.”

The selected contractor from this Pitch Day was awarded a $236,000 contract and paid $35,400, 15% of contract, immediately.

“The ‘advance payment’ is another aspect of this contracting method that assists start-up companies with earnest money to promote business relations with new DoD tech companies. In many cases, companies go months with no payment and helps to promote industry trust in future efforts with regard to Air Force innovation; all in effort to cement Air Combat Command’s priority of ‘bringing the future faster’,” said Larson.
This team presented a defense system that provided solutions requested by the 319th Security Forces Squadron.

“The company’s proposal that was selected was for counter small UAS with Detection, Tracking and Defeat capabilities,” said Larson. “Their technology leverages Artificial Intelligence software and tracking/defeat automation that solved the 319th SFS problem statement with little to no impact on manning.”

This event was a first for the Greater Grand Forks community and the combined group looks forward to more opportunities in the future.

“The partnership with UND is limitless and feel like we have just broke through the surface with this event,” said SMSgt Dustin Dallis, 319th Wing Staff Agencies senior enlisted leader and innovation council lead. “Not only will this strengthen the 319th RW’s capability, it reinforces our value in this community.”

The partnership between UND Center for Innovation and the Grand Forks Air Force Base is important to our shared commitment and goal to support innovation, community collaboration, and technology development focused on Unmanned Aircraft Systems and other priority needs of the Department of Defense, according to Amy Whitney, UND Center for Innovation director.

“We are pleased to provide opportunities to connect the time, talents and expertise of UND and the entrepreneurial community with the Air Force Base through our partnership with the Innovation Council,” said Whitney.

Grand Forks AFB and the Grand Forks area have a recent history in promoting UAS and the continuing partnerships help further foster innovation.

"The growing partnership between UND and the Grand Forks Air Force Base is at the forefront of the Center for Innovations objectives, said Tyler Sletten, UND Center for Innovation Small Business Technology Transfer/Small Business Innovation Research director. “Speaking purely from the perspective of the SBIT/STTR and AFWERX programming: I see the relationship as critical to ongoing development of both UAS technologies and other DOD needs in the greater Red River Valley."