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Technology Competition to Award GovTech Innovations; Applications Open Now

SDI Ignite Awards

SDI Ignite Awards

Awards to honor tech companies with potential to protect and improve the federal sector; emerging growth to established enterprise firms encouraged to apply.

Too often, exceptional companies shy away from federal contracts, assuming their technology is not a fit. The government is not just a customer; it's a catalyst for innovation across industries.”
— Joy Schoffler, Principal, Distinctive Edge Partners

AUSTIN, TX, USA, November 8, 2023 / -- The Space and Defense Innovation (SDI) team announces its Ignite Competition, a demo competition designed to provide tech companies an opportunity to “show” rather than “tell” experts from across the federal sector how their technology will solve problems and help the U.S. maintain its technological supremacy.

Sponsored by Second Front, the SDI Showcase and Awards aims to accomplish two goals: (1) facilitate a joint open-topic competition for the federal sector, and (2) remove barriers to participation for the tech industry. Companies are encouraged to apply by submitting a five-minute video by December 15, 2023, telling the story of their unique innovation and its impact.

The event is open to companies ranging from emerging tech to established government prime contractors who have interesting new technology to share. Expert judges from across the federal sector (industry leaders, media, VC's, innovation and acquisitions professionals, and other high-profile leaders) will evaluate submissions and provide transparent feedback to applicants.

“Having supported 178 federal innovation and grant programs and counting, we’ve seen a lot of approaches to connecting the government and private sector innovators,” said Adam Rentschler, CEO of Valid Eval, one of the co-hosts of the event. “With Ignite, we’re combining lessons learned from CDAO’s Tradewinds Marketplace, Army’s xTech prize competition and AFWERX’s open topics. We’re building in novel benefits for participants on both sides. This is an exciting time and this competition presents a significant opportunity for companies wanting to step into this explosive new industry area.”

Applications have the potential to receive cash awards, prizes and company exposure to prominent industry leaders and end-buyers. The top two companies in each category will be invited to demo their technology live at SDI's highly-curated invite-only VIP reception, enabling them to network among government and industry leaders, trade media, and other community experts.

All applicants will receive a confidential feedback report reviewing their technology. The U.S. is undergoing its largest modernization effort ever, opening many new opportunities for companies than were available previously. This event provides an opportunity for companies to see how their technology is received without going through the heavy lift of the standard bid process.

The Ignite Awards were created by the founders of the VIP Reception – Joy Schoffler, Principal of Distinctive Edge Partners; Tim Chrisman, Executive Director of Foundation for the Future; and Adam Rentschler, CEO of Valid Eval – to provide an opportunity for participants to gain industry recognition, receive valuable feedback about their commercial potential in the space and to attract potential investors and media attention in addition to receiving prizes.

“Having served in the military and spent nearly 20 years working in financial services and the tech sphere, I have a passion for bringing non-traditional technology into the federal sector,” said Schoffler. “Too often, exceptional companies shy away from federal contracts, mistakenly assuming their technology is not a fit or there is too much red tape in the process to explore opportunities. The truth is the government is not just a customer; it's a catalyst for innovation across industries. This competition has been designed to make it easy for potential new entrants to see how their companies could fit within wider modernization efforts while recognizing companies that are making a difference within the federal community.”

“Our Space and Defense Innovation Showcase has a straightforward mission: to discover and spotlight the very best in technology,” said Chrisman. “We're committed to identifying top-notch innovations and making them accessible to government contracting professionals who are eager to modernize their technology landscape.”

About the competition

Applications are open through December 15, 2023. To apply or for more information:

The SDI Showcase and Ignite Awards focuses on six of the critical technology categories for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and is held in two phases. These categories are:
- Integrated Sensing and Cyber
- Space Technology
- Human-Machine Interfaces
- AI and Autonomy
- Renewable Energy Generation and Storage
- Quantum Science
- Wildcard category

Companies will compete based on company size and sector, resulting in two finalists from each category being selected by judges from throughout the industry to include acquisitions and innovation professionals, with two finalists facing off in a live demo competition in front of acquisition and innovation leaders, industry media, investors and industry leaders.

The finalists will take part in a live demo competition in front of a live audience and a panel of high-profile judges ranging from former congressmen and flag offers to leaders of top space and defense VC’s, media and other leading industry executives. Winners will be crowned during the highly-curated Space and Defense Innovation VIP Party, held on March 9, 2024, in Austin, TX, during SXSW.

About the organizers

Distinctive Edge Partners
Distinctive Edge Partners is a full-service communications, marketing and event management firm that pairs deep aerospace and defense communications expertise with creative and digital strategies to help clients build and maximize value, improve operations, and turn risks and threats into opportunities. We are connectors that thrive on bringing the right people together to create opportunity and maximize ROI for our clients.

Foundation for the Future
Foundation for the Future is an education and advocacy non-profit dedicated to advancing the space economy by developing critical infrastructure to enable it, investment tools to finance it, and a workforce to power it.

Valid Eval
Valid Eval is an online evaluation system for organizations that make and defend tough decisions. Its secure SaaS platform works efficiently at virtually any scale to allow customers in the private and government sectors to involve a wide range of applicants, subjects, domain experts, and judges in evaluation and decision-making processes —all with an unprecedented degree of transparency, efficiency and accountability that builds trust in the process. Combining best practices from the learning sciences and systems engineering, Valid Eval delivers defensible, data-driven results and provides robust reporting tools that help measure and monitor performance and demonstrate mission alignment.

Emily Brown
Distinctive Edge Partners
+1 321-945-1418
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