Playa Vista, Calif. — Otherwise known as xTechSearch, the Army Expeditionary Search is part of a transformation underway in all branches of the military to innovative rapidly to attack problems, like a startup.
After reviewing 340 white papers submitted by small businesses and startups that showcased how novel research and technology ideas could benefit the Army’s modernization priorities, the competition invited SimpleSense to pitch their idea to a panel of judges at the Army Research Laboratory West, a new science and technology presence for the Army.
“xTechSearch is really about trying to reach out to nontraditional partners and try to get new ideas, reinvigorate ideas into the needs of the Army and try to create new technologies and opportunities to support the Soldier,” said Army Chief Scientist and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology Dr. Thomas P. Russell.
Alex Brickner, CTO of SimpleSense, pitched how the company’s technology for fighters has potential Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance applications for the military.
“After consulting with over one hundred fire and police departments across the U.S., we found the biggest problem was routing first responders faster to people and points of interest. This competition helped us see the scale of that same problem for the military.” said Brickner.
SimpleSense developed a white paper, “Paradigm shift: Response teams demand more knowledge, less data,” to understand the context of the Army’s modernization efforts and how the startup could participate.
Until very recently, startups could not easily work with the military due to procurement and other barriers. New initiatives like xTechSearch, SOFWERX, and AFWERX have changed the game, enabling startups with new ideas to quickly find support from inside the Department of Defense.
“The competition is really designed to start a dialog with industry,” said Joshua Israel, xTechSearch Innovation Officer. “It’s reaching out to small businesses and nontraditional partners and break down some of those traditional barriers we see in terms of just talking, to begin that dialog, to begin that business relationship.”
Eric Kanagy, CEO, co-founded SimpleSense along with Brickner and Mark Lorkowski, “xTechSearch gives us the opportunity as a young startup to prove our ability to the Department of Defense. To say the least, it’s forward-thinking for a massive government agency to integrate startups and new thinking as they attack their problems.”
SimpleSense is competing with 125 companies for up to $330,000 in funding each over the four phases of the competition. The total prize pool is $1.95M.
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology created xTechSearch in June, 2018 to highlight opportunities for nontraditional defense partners to collaborate with the Army to tackle the most poignant Army modernization challenges. The competition mirrors entrepreneurial pitch competitions where aspiring entrepreneurs make innovative proposals to panels of investors, who then choose whether or not to invest as business partners.
SimpleSense developed sensor technology to provide smart routing to spots of interest for security, first responders, and military operations, using sensor fusion and intelligent algorithms to reduce response time and to provide actionable situational awareness. The company is currently participating in the Secure Erie Accelerator, a security and Smart City-focused accelerator in Erie, Penn.