Bigs and Smalls Collide at Innovation Community Days
Themes of Innovation and Synergy Emerge as Primes and Small Business Work Together to Meet Warfighter Needs
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – October 30, 2019 – Despite snow delays, the Catalyst Space Accelerator (CSA) hosted its largest Innovation Community Days yet, bringing in nearly 200 people from small businesses, large primes, and military units and program offices all for one goal: find opportunities to work together to advance technology for the warfighter.
Attendees and participants packed into Catalyst Campus’s historic Harvey House for one and a half days to hear pitches from 16 small businesses and startups, interact with four panels of innovators from both industry and government, and spend time networking with individuals from every pocket of the space community.
“When you have industry, government and military leaders sharing ideas and insights on collaborative innovation, you know there will be great things happening,” said KiMar Gartman, CSA’s Program Director. “This event brought together great minds and we all walked away excited with the possibilities of what lies ahead.”
This year’s Innovation Community Days were sponsored by Lockheed Martin and hosted by the Catalyst Space Accelerator and Starburst. Tim Ford, Lockheed Martin Military Space Business Development, explained that Lockheed Martin became involved with the Accelerator because of the Prime’s “responsibility to advance technology” and, ultimately, “the capabilities of our nation.” One of the ways they fulfill that responsibility, he said, was through “ensuring a vibrant industrial base” by supporting small business through investments, partnering, and mentoring.
Keynote Speaker Colonel Russell Teehan, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center Portfolio Architect, spoke on the necessity of having many companies to support the Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Enterprise Architecture in today’s contested Space environment.
“There are many layers in the ISR architecture that need to be seamlessly stitched together in the data architecture,” Teehan said. “[As a small business,] Don’t assume the US Air Force is doing that perfectly yet.”
This task is why the Air Force invests in accelerators and other small business programs, said Teehan: “You have to create opportunities for people to collide and discuss ideas. It’s about creating that ecosystem where we all talk about where we think we’re going.”
Panel members came from every sector of the innovation community – including members from primes such as Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace, Air Force and Army units, and entrepreneurs now working with the government through their startups and small businesses. Presenters also included innovators from the Air Force Academy and CU Boulder.
The varying viewpoints allowed attendees to hear and discuss successes, failures, pain points, and why innovating despite barriers matters.
“We need to find the right balance between speed and finding the right people to make the best solution,” said panelist Greg Bennett of Air Force CyberWorx.
Among the presenters was also 16 different startups and small businesses – eight selected by Starburst and eight from the current CSA cohort. The event gave them the opportunity to connect with potential investors or partners to further the development of their technologies.
Despite snow on the second day, causing a delayed start and Brigadier General Thomas James, of U.S. Space Command, to be unable to attend, participants came away from the event inspired.
“The ecosystem that’s happening at places like Catalyst [Campus] will move us forward – innovation like this will allow us to bring technology to the warfighter quickly and efficiently, and ultimately to save lives” said Brandon Florian, Starburst Business Development and Corporate Relations Director.
About Catalyst Space Accelerator
The AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Catalyst Space Accelerator is a NewSpace-focused defense and national security industry accelerator, headquartered on the Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Catalyst Campus is a collaborative ecosystem where industry, small business, entrepreneurs, startups, government, academia, and venture capital intersect with Colorado’s aerospace and defense industry to create community, spark innovation and stimulate business growth. Catalyst Space Accelerator is a collaborative program hosted by Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation (CCTI, a Colorado 501(c)3), Space Capital Colorado, and the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide a robust, mentor-driven curriculum for accelerator teams.