Defense Companies Courting Startups: Fad or Lasting Trend?

From National Defense Magazine

During a closed-door meeting with top industry executives last month, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter once again sought to drive home the message that companies need to break out of their cocoon to help the Pentagon bring the next wave of innovation.

The conversation touched on familiar topics, according to participants, but Carter seemed especially animated by one executive’s comments about a recent industry “speed-dating” event where commercial startups were invited to hear about business opportunities with defense contractors.

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At this tech event, big companies get a taste of life as a start-up

The roomful of entrepreneurs watched in anticipation as the first participant took the stage. They’d all been in that position before: teeing up the PowerPoint slide show, fumbling around with the presentation remote and clearing their throats before launching into a business pitch.

Only this time, the ones doing the pitching were executives from large companies such as Comcast, Samsung and Time Inc.

At SwitchPitch, a tech event that connects start-up owners and big companies across the country, the roles are reversed. Executives outline specific problems they’re trying to solve and look to entrepreneurs for ideas. Now in its third year, the event returned to Washington this week to coincide with a White House event promoting diversity in entrepreneurship.

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SwitchPitch, in first defense event, seeks to connect
large contractors with startups

InsideDefense – September 27, 2016 | Marjorie Censer

SwitchPitch, a platform that convenes big companies with startups, held its first aerospace and defense-focused event Tuesday, featuring contractors including BAE Systems and Harris.

The event, held at startup incubator 1776 in Crystal City, VA, came as the Pentagon is pushing for greater use of commercial technology in defense.

Jerry McGinn of the Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy told attendees the Defense Department is seeing the sources of innovation change.

“The defense industrial base is critical for the department. We view it as part of our force structure,” he said. “Nothing strengthens that defense industrial base more than competition and new blood.”

SwitchPitch was established in hopes of making it easier for big companies and startups to work together, Michael Goldstein, president of SwitchPitch, told Inside Defense in an interview. The platform is predicated on the idea that the process is improved when big companies first lay out their needs and then startups can respond.

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SwitchPitch Aerospace & Defense Will Revolutionize Enterprise Innovation

Unique Opportunity for Established Aerospace & Defense Companies to Search and Source Startup Solutions to Meet Capability Needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 15, 2016) – Glacier Point will bring SwitchPitch, an engagement platform connecting startups with established companies, to the aerospace & defense industry during an event in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 27, 2016. SwitchPitch Aerospace & Defense is a role reversal event where established A&D companies pitch funded innovation projects to qualified startups looking for strong partners.

SwitchPitch aims to close the gap between big companies and startups by connecting the right people and the right projects while tearing down the barriers that keep established companies from creating innovation: lack of resources, understaffing and speed to market. With successful iterations previously held in cities around the globe, over 40 percent of projects presented at SwitchPitch events result in signed deals.

“Government customers are demanding more innovation from established aerospace and defense companies. At Glacier Point we are working work the A&D sector to develop business models for greater collaboration with non-traditional sources of technology. Commercial startups are a great example of that and will help drive a needed expansion of the national security ecosystem,” said Jeff Ryder, Founder and CEO, Glacier Point.

“Private investors, emerging workforce models and low-cost technology are enabling breakthrough innovations via commercial startups. With SwitchPitch we aim to provide a unique and mutually beneficial opportunity to bring these two sides together,” added Michael Goldstein, president, SwitchPitch.”

Established A&D players will have access to a pool of cutting-edge talent that is nimble, fast and creative to source relevant, cutting-edge technologies, capabilities and methods. By learning from entrepreneurial business and workforce models, large companies can expose employees to new and dynamic ways of thinking and move quickly on market opportunities.

“The spirit of innovation resides in Elbit Systems of America,” commented Bob Edmonds, Vice President of Marketing at Elbit Systems of America. “We are continuously looking for advanced technologies that drive our goal of improving our customer’s mission effectiveness.
In a SwitchPitch event A&D companies develop innovation projects with support from Glacier Point, then “pitch” them before a crowd of high-quality startups. Startups create SwitchPitch profiles and submit proposed solutions, then facilitate project reviews through Glacier Point.
SwitchPitch Aerospace & Defense will be attended by: established A&D companies; innovative startups with working solutions; investment, consulting and legal ecosystem supporters; as well as government customers. In addition to project presentations and speed meetings, the event will include an opening keynote, panel discussion and networking opportunities.

About SwitchPitch

SwitchPitch closes the gap between big companies and startups. Our startup engagement platform cuts through all of the time and energy by connecting the right people and the right projects out of the gate. It tears down the barriers that keep established companies from creating innovation: lack of resources, understaffing, and speed to market. The SwitchPitch platform helps manage startup community and internal innovation initiatives from one easy interface. For more information, visit www.switchpitch.com.

About Glacier Point

Glacier Point provides augmented intelligence and innovation solutions to government ecosystem clients. Our mission is to foster a government ecosystem that rapidly deploys capabilities to save lives and advance the national interest. For more information, visit www.glacierpt.com.

Contacts

Edelman for SwitchPitch:
Abigail Van Uum, 512-200-5341
Abigail.VanUum@edelman.com

Ashley Chauvin, 212-277-3818
Ashley.Chauvin@edelman.com