Inside the Joint AI Center's Pitch Day.

Author:Tadjdeh, Yasmin
Position:Algorithmic Warfare

* NEW YORK -- On the 48th floor of 10 Hudson Yards--part of a New York City high-rise complex with boutique shops, offices and restaurants--companies lined up to pitch new artificial intelligence technology to the Defense Department.

The event was hosted by the National Security Innovation Network--which recently changed its name from the MD5 National Security Technology Accelerator--in support of the Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC. It brought together companies focusing on AI and cyber to pitch their technology to defense and government leaders.

Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan, the director of the JAIC, said the gathering was a big opportunity for the center.

"What we're trying to do is really put together the entire tapestry of what it takes to get a capability into the hands" of warfighters rapidly and at scale, he said during remarks before a small crowd of industry. "Those are challenging things to do and the department hasn't been very good at in some of the areas that we're talking about today."

The event featured representatives from six companies--Kyndi, Forge.AI, Virtualitics, Slingshot Aerospace, Omelas and EpiSys Science Inc.--pitching their technology directly to a panel of interested stakeholders that included Shanahan; Joel Mozer, Air Force Space Command's chief scientist; Brad Harrison, managing partner at Scout Ventures; and Rob Painter, managing director at Razor's Edge Ventures.

Company representatives were given about 10 minutes to present, followed by a five-minute Q&A session.

"Everything I heard today has some applicability to what we're trying to do in the department and the Joint AI Center," Shanahan told National Defense after the event had concluded. "This was the beginning of I would say many, many engagements where it really shows a level of collaboration and integration with a much broader community."

Shanahan described the pitch day as a way to spur dialogue between the government and industry and less so to get a piece of technology on contract immediately. "I don't think anybody today was expecting to sign anything on the dotted line," he said.

"A lot of these startups are just trying to figure out how to navigate the labyrinth called the Department of Defense," he said. "We're here to help work through [that] and for us to get a better understanding of who we're dealing with."

The Pentagon has been making moves to cut acquisition-related bureaucratic red tape that has...

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