Air Force Research Laboratory , NM company launch Hyperspace Challenge
By KEVIN ROBINSON-AVILA | The Albuquerque Journal | Published: August 2, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Tribune News Service) — War fighters need to rapidly translate reams of satellite data into useful information, and tech-savvy data analysis startups could help them do it.
To connect them, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base and the ABQid business accelerator have launched a new Hyperspace Challenge to pair startups working on data analytics with defense-related innovators to resolve space-related challenges. From now through November, participating companies will connect virtually with military specialists to devise plans for applying their technologies to real-world issues related to space.
That will culminate in a weeklong accelerator from Nov. 12-16 in Albuquerque where teams of startup entrepreneurs and defense-related experts will test and finalize individual plans for presentation in a public “demo day” with cash awards.
“It’s designed to bring together technology startups and defense innovators to speed up innovation for the Air Force and other defense agencies,” said ABQid Executive Director T.J. Cook. “It’s a broad challenge to capture some of today’s technology disruption happening in space.”
AFRL personnel are recruiting defense innovators from all military branches to share critical issues that need solutions, said AFRL Technology Engagement Office Director Matt Fetrow.
“We’re looking throughout the Air Force and across the Department of Defense,” Fetrow said. “It’s an opportunity to take innovations that companies have applied initially to other domains and apply them to space-related challenges.”
The accelerator is the first program to emerge from a new AFRL-ABQid partnership announced in April. The AFRL signed a three-year, $750,000 contract with ABQid to help build collaborative relations with private companies working on new technologies.
It’s part of a fresh, national effort by the Air Force and other defense-related agencies to more rapidly develop and acquire technologies that improve military capabilities.
It could lead to solutions for real-world problems, according to the Hyperspace Challenge web site. Data analytics, for example, could help predict future behavior of a space object to enable real-time decision making, or estimate soil moisture in targeted areas worldwide using available imagery and sensor data to better plan transportation for a remote mission.
The application period to participate runs through Aug. 31. From now through November, participants will connect online with defense innovators and experts to present their technologies and proposals and refine them.
The best ones will be chosen for the weeklong accelerator in November. The plan with the most potential will receive a $25,000 cash award on demo day. Remaining competitors will share another $55,000 in varying prizes.
Santa Fe-based Descartes Labs, which uses proprietary data analysis technology to turn satellite-based feeds into usable information, is one of the accelerator sponsors, Cook said. Its platform will be made available to accelerator participants with assistance from Descartes staff.
To learn more or apply, visit hyperspacechallenge.com.