Pitch It program simplifies engagement with Hanscom organizations

  • Published
  • By Jessica Casserly
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The Hanscom Innovation Team has developed a unique program to streamline engagement with industry and encourage cross-collaboration among Hanscom organizations.

The Pitch It program consolidates initial technology market research for Hanscom organizations through a dedicated scouting and sourcing process. Managed by the Innovation Team, the program offers demonstration opportunities, company vetting, and assessments supported by subject matter expert volunteers from the Digital Directorate; the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate; the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems; and the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Integration Directorate.

Marissa McCoy, MITRE support to CROWS and Air Force Bridging Innovation lead, said the idea for the program came about during a Hanscom Innovation Team planning session.

“We realized that Hanscom’s directorates and CROWS were interacting with the same companies and going through similar processes independently,” she said. “We decided to join forces and create one intake point for businesses to access all of Hanscom.”

This streamlined strategy saves Hanscom organizations and participating companies valuable time by eliminating duplication of efforts, McCoy said.

“The Pitch It intake form provides a list of Hanscom focus areas and needs. Each company has the opportunity to succinctly express how their technology aligns with one of these focus areas.”

The team holds Pitch It sessions the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, giving up to four vetted companies 25 minutes each to pitch their technology or product and answer questions from Pitch It SMEs.

“This unique process has standard evaluation criteria,” said Joe Wotton, CROWS program manager and a Hanscom Innovation Team member. “A moderator provides guidance to the companies in advance to ensure pitches cover specified points, including alignment to a program office challenge, readiness and maturity, and commercial traction.”

This initiative also increases exposure for the businesses that participate.

“We’ve had representatives from the Air Combat Command, the U.S. Army, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense participate in some of our Pitch It sessions,” McCoy said.

As part of the Pitch It process, the Innovation Team also helps companies identify next steps and create a path toward achieving their desired outcomes.

“We can help small businesses set up a technical deep dive with a specific program office or connect them with potential supporters for their Phase II Small Business Innovation Research applications,” Wotton said.

To date, 40 companies have pitched their technology to Hanscom representatives at 12 Pitch It sessions and eight of those companies have moved on to next steps, such as participating in Lantern demo day events.

Lydia Olsen, chief venture officer for the NC3 Integration Directorate and an Innovation Team member, said the team is continuously working to improve the Pitch It process to maximize engagement and make it more user friendly.

“We’ve seen companies benefit from the breath of exposure and feedback they receive through the Pitch It process and we’re evaluating new tools and resources we hope will enhance the program in 2022,” she said.

To learn more about current Hanscom Innovation Team technology focus areas or to connect with the team and get involved with the Pitch It program, visit https://www.hanscom.af.mil/Hanscom-Innovation-Team/.