JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
Joint Base MDL accepted former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein’s innovation challenge to ‘Think Big, Start Small, and Scale Fast’ with its first-ever Joint Base MDL Pitch Day event. Ten small businesses pitched their innovative technology to Joint Base MDL leaders and five of them walked away with a one-page contract in hand and an initial payment in the bank.
The two-month process, which started in April, began when the 87th Contracting Squadron published problem statements from the 87th Air Base Wing, 305th Air Mobility Wing, 621 Contingency Response Wing, and Expeditionary Operations School requesting innovative solutions from small businesses to tackle their most pressing readiness and lethality challenges. For example, the 305th Air Mobility Wing was looking for virtual reality (VR) and/or augmented reality (AR) applications for aircrew and ground personnel.
Small businesses submitted 72 proposals with a wide-range of innovative technologies. The streamlined proposals included a five page white paper and a 15 slide presentation. Subject matter experts reviewed the proposals and based on their recommendations, Joint Base MDL invited ten companies to pitch their products, June 10 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology Agile iLab in Newark, New Jersey. After companies pitched and demoed their products, Joint Base MDL selected five companies for contracts totaling $168,057.19. Those five companies signed one-page contracts and received an initial payment at the event.
Joint Base MDL partnered with the NJIT Procurement Technical Assistance Center to provide workshops to increase small business participation. These workshops taught companies how to register with the government and prepare a proposal. Half of the companies invited to the event were based in New Jersey, highlighting the abundance of innovative technology near Joint Base MDL.
“I’m proud of the contracting professionals and technical evaluators for their hard work and flexibility as we figured things out on the fly,” said Lt Col Axel Clark, 87th Contracting Squadron Commander. “One of the keys to this event was leadership at Joint Base MDL and within Air Force Contracting setting a culture that encouraged taking risks like this to get after our biggest challenges.”
Joint Base MDL Pitch Day was modeled after the Air Force Pitch Day held in New York City in March. Contracting professionals with the 87th Contracting Squadron used a new solicitation process called a Commercial Solutions Opening authorized by Congress to increase access to innovative commercial solutions. It is the first time the new CSO authority has been used by an Air Force contracting squadron to host a Pitch Day style event. While Joint Base MDL started small with the first Pitch Day, it is working to scale fast, sharing lessons learned with many other contracting squadrons across the Air Force who plan to issue their own CSOs in the coming months.
“It was inspiring to see the many units of Joint Base MDL come together as we developed this streamlined process. I’m happy that we were able to provide innovative, rapid support to so many joint base missions. I look forward to sharing what we learned with other contracting professionals across the Air Force to see where they take this next,” said TSgt Dustin Golden, the contracting officer for the event.
Joint Base MDL plans to publish details on its next Pitch Day later this summer. The 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill AFB had a team at Joint Base MDL’s event to capture lessons learned and is hosting its own MacDill Pitch Day on August 1.