Partnering with allied nations to identify the most-advanced Artificial Intelligence technologies was the theme for the first international tri-service competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), U.S. Air Force AFWERX, U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research-Global and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. The global competition kicked off in April 2021 to find innovative AI-enabled capabilities that manage, integrate, process and reason disparate data and information for rapid decision making at the tactical edge.
The winning companies –MarshallAI (first place), LatticeFlow (second place), Cyber Defence Service Ltd (third place) – received $70,000, $50,000 and $30,000 respectively.
“This first-time competition is a step toward understanding the spectrum of unique, world-class technologies that may solve the Department of Defense’s AI challenges. Prize competitions are one way the U.S. Army engages with technology developers around the world who could advance scientific discovery and integrate ground-breaking technologies into capabilities for the joint services,” said Maj. Gen. Miles Brown, DEVCOM commanding general.
The winners were announced at a hybrid (in-person and virtual) finalist pitch event, held at Imperial College London Innovation Hub on September 9-10, 2021. The finalists pitched their proposed solutions to a panel of AI experts from DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Air Force AI/ML Accelerator, Naval Information Warfare Center – Pacific (NIWC), DOD Joint AI Center (JAIC), UK Defense Science and Technology Lab (DSTL), and French Defence Innovation Agency (DIA).
The two round competition began with a call for white papers from small-business and non-traditional international industry in the DEVCOM Atlantic Area of Responsibility, which includes Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
A panel of 75 judges from 32 Army and DOD organizations evaluated 26 white papers from eight countries across the AOR to select the ten finalists, who were from the UK, France, Israel, Switzerland and Finland. The finalists each received $10,000 and an invitation to brief their technology to a panel of AI subject matter experts from the DOD and foreign allies at the finalist pitch event, the second round of the competition. The finalists also participated in the xTech Accelerator program, led by FedTech with support from the UK Defence and Security Accelerator, and received follow-on education, mentoring and venture capitalist networking opportunities to help grow their companies and learn how to market and work with the DoD. The list of finalists can be found here.
“This competition demonstrates how joint-service and allied coalition partnerships can open new doors for doing business with the U.S. DOD. These partnerships are critical for enabling DEVCOM to shape the Army of the future, and prize competitions are one way to find the best technology for Soldiers,” said Nathan Anderson, DEVCOM Atlantic International Technology Center technical director.
Key collaborators in the xTechGlobal AI competition include DEVCOM ARL, AFC AI Integration Center, Air Force AI/ML Accelerator, DOD JAIC, AFWERX, NIWC – Pacific and foreign partners from UK Ministry of Defense Defence and Security Accelerator, DSTL and the French DIA.
The xTechGlobal AI Challenge is an extension of the ASA(ALT) Expeditionary Technology Search program, expanded to the international innovation sector. As next steps for the program, FedTech will continue to mentor the finalists and assist them to identify opportunities within DoD for follow on contracts and collaboration.
“The international finalists offered unique and exciting capabilities, and DoD judges indicated interest in conducting follow-on engagement with finalists post competition to explore further collaboration opportunities,” said Col. Jenny Stacy, DEVCOM Atlantic director.
The xTechGlobal AI Challenge connects international companies with the DOD, provides opportunities for growth and engagement across the DOD enterprise, and increases the AI ecosystem.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, is the Army's technology leader and largest technology developer. DEVCOM ensures the dominance of Army capabilities by creating, integrating and delivering technology-enabled solutions to our Soldiers.